A ‘No Deal’ Brexit could slash support for Northern Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State tells the Irish Sun today.
In a New Year’s message, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley says the EU’s original plan to “split the UK in two” has been scuppered.
But she insists a ‘no deal’ scenario could instead spark a fall in support for the “union itself”.
Ahead of parliament’s crunch vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s controversial withdrawal proposals, Ms Bradley said the draft agreement – rejected by the DUP – has the backing of businesses and ensures no hard border.
In a stark warning to unionists, written for the Irish Sun, she adds if no UK arrangement is struck with Brussels the downside would be felt “keenly in Northern Ireland.”
The Secretary of State insists that could “risk undermining consent for the political settlement in Northern Ireland, including for the union itself”.
Karen Bradley’s New Year message
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody in Northern Ireland a very happy and prosperous new year. At this time we often reflect on the previous 12 months but also look to the year ahead.
For me, it’s almost a year since the Prime Minister honoured me with the role of Northern Ireland Secretary.
I can genuinely say that my favourite part of the job is travelling around, meeting people and finding out about their lives, their concerns and what they love about Northern Ireland.
I remain deeply committed to delivering this Government’s vision of a Northern Ireland where politics works, the economy grows and society is more united. We want to build one Northern Ireland, stronger and more prosperous in which everyone, irrespective of their background, has a stake.
To help achieve that, though, we need to see Northern Ireland’s local politicians back to work at Stormont, taking the decisions over key local services and attracting investment from outside. Northern Ireland has been without a functioning executive for nearly two years.
Restoring devolved, power-sharing government remains a key priority. We have passed legislation to help the parties get back to work as early as possible in 2019 and I will be doing everything I can to make that happen.
The greatest task of our times is to ensure an orderly exit from the European Union that honours the commitments we have given to people in Northern Ireland.
The Government’s plan does that. It will enable us to take back control over our laws, our money and our borders. We will then be free to negotiate an ambitious new relationship with the EU, based on free trade, as well as strike exciting new trade deals with other countries.
For Northern Ireland the deal ensures unrestricted access for NI goods and services to its largest market, Great Britain. Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the single UK customs territory. We have been very clear that there will be no divergence in the future between GB and NI. The economic integrity of the UK will be maintained.
This was a massive victory for the UK, stopping the EU’s original plan to split the UK in two. At the same time there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland. All of this has been widely welcomed by businesses across NI.
Most important, our precious Union is maintained. The 1998 Agreement, including the consent principle, is upheld in full. Nobody can alter Northern Ireland’s constitutional status other than the people of Northern Ireland themselves.
As this Conservative Government has said repeatedly, we will never be neutral on the Union. The best future for Northern Ireland is within a stronger UK – while always upholding the rights and aspirations of the whole community.
The alternatives to our plan are no Brexit or a no deal Brexit. No Brexit would be a betrayal of over 17 million voters and would take us back to square one.