· UK and EU have mutual interests
· Michel Barnier should be less pessimistic
· Issues require a pragmatic approach
Ulster Unionist Fermanagh & South Tyrone Westminster candidate, Tom Elliott has said EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier should focus on getting the best deal for both parties in Brexit negotiations.
Tom Elliott said:
“The focus of both parties in Brexit negotiations should be on achieving the best deal for the United Kingdom and the European Union based around our mutual interests in trade and security co-operation.
“Therefore I am disappointed at Michel Barnier’s recent comments that negotiations will be a ‘steep and rocky path’ with perilous dangers ahead.
“As the EU’s Chief Negotiator, he should be approaching these negotiations with an open mind, with the goal of making Brexit a success for everyone.
“For Northern Ireland there are many issues which will require a pragmatic approach, including finding a successful resolution to the border, so people and goods can still flow freely across it after Brexit. This is particularly vital given Fermanagh & South Tyrone’s large land border with the Republic of Ireland.
“Also, we must ensure that our agri-food industry can still continue to trade throughout Europe without high-tariffs hindering our ability to export produce.
“Clearly Brexit presents challenges, but we must also look to maximise the opportunities that it does present.
“Since the referendum decision Ulster Unionists have been positively engaging in Westminster and in Brussels to find a positive way forward and to ensure Northern Ireland’s interests are represented.
“We have met on several occasions with the Under Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Robin Walker MP, and successfully lobbied for EU structural and investment fund projects, and farming payments to be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK has left the EU, up until 2020.
“Perhaps if Michel Barnier took note of this approach, we might reach a Brexit deal that works for everyone.”