Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP, South Belfast MP Claire Hanna and South Belfast MLA Matthew O’Toole met with British Brexit Minister Lord Frost today to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Speaking after the meeting, Claire Hanna MP said that Lord Frost needs to look to the opportunities of dual market access for Northern Ireland while working honestly and constructively with all parties to address the deficits in the deal he negotiated and agreed with the European Commission.
Claire Hanna MP said:
“If all you read about the Northern Ireland protocol was the commentary from Lord Frost and London Ministers, you would have no idea that they negotiated, signed and ran an entire election campaign on the strength of this deal. The distancing from that fact is concerning, and we reiterated how important it is to be honest with people about the options that are on the table. A solution that marries a hard Brexit and no checks has never existed.
“During our discussions with Lord Frost today, we again appealed for the British Government to focus on making the deal work. After five years of instability, the last thing the people or businesses in Northern Ireland need is the reckless attempts to trash a delicate settlement that is designed to mitigate the kind of Brexit that we warned against but others blindly chased.
“We also repeated the SDLP proposal for a Swiss-style SPS agreement with the EU that would reduce checks carried out under the protocol by up to 85%. We know that the European Commission is supportive of such an arrangement. We didn’t hear a coherent reason why the UK Government are determined to prioritise the power to diverge over all over considerations, but reiterated the need for them to be clear about the consequence of their decision.
“The SDLP will continue to maximise the benefits of dual market access for Northern Ireland’s economy. We will be talking up local businesses and seeking to increase investment in an area that uniquely offers a footprint in two substantial markets on this continent.”