Brexit: Brokenshire rules out special status for Northern Ireland

‘Approach we take is based on getting best possible deal for all parts of United Kingdom’

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told the House of Commons on Wednesday that seeking special status for Northern Ireland after Brexit was the wrong approach. Photograph: PA

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told the House of Commons on Wednesday that seeking special status for Northern Ireland after Brexit was the wrong approach. Photograph: PA

 

Special status for Northern Ireland after Brexit would be the wrong approach and fears such a deal could undermine its place in the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has said.

Mr Brokenshire was agreeing with an argument put forward by DUP MP Sammy Wilson that there should be no special circumstances “that will weaken our position within the United Kingdom” when Britain leaves the EU during Northern Ireland questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Mr Brokenshire said special status would be “the wrong approach”.

He said the British government intended instead to look at addressing individual issues specific to Northern Ireland during Brexit negotiations.

This week Sinn Féin launched a campaign in a bid to secure special status for Northern Ireland within the EU after Brexit.

Speaking at Northern Ireland questions in the Commons, Mr Brokenshire also renewed his pledge to maintain a “frictionless” Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

But he was accused of giving vague answers on the details of such an arrangement, as MPs pressed him on the relationship between the two countries after Britain leaves the EU.

Mr Wilson said: “The Government has rightly sought to identify the issues that affect different regions and different sectors of the economy, and to build those into its negotiating position.

“Regardless of the issue, however, of the common travel area, can the Secretary of State give us an assurance that all parts of the United Kingdom will leave the EU on an equal basis, and that no special arrangements or different conditions or special circumstances will be afforded to Northern Ireland, that will weaken our position within the United Kingdom, and treat us differently than other parts of the United Kingdom?”

Mr Brokenshire replied: “We are very clear as a Government of the strength of the union, how that matters to all of us.

“Therefore the approach that we take is based on getting the best possible deal for all parts of the United Kingdom.

“Yes, there will be some specific factors in Northern Ireland, that he is well aware of. We’ve talked about the border, and there are other issues as well.

“But it is with that intent, it is with that focus, and therefore concepts of special status I think is the wrong approach.

“It’s rather looking at special factors, special circumstances, and dealing with them effectively.”

PA