Scotland and North ‘must be consulted’ in Brexit talks

Scottish National Party MP Stephen Gethins says vote of both countries must be respected

 Stephen Gethins told an SDLP Brexit forum in Belfast the decision of the majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland to stay in the EU must be respected as much as the decision of those in England and Wales to quit. File photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Stephen Gethins told an SDLP Brexit forum in Belfast the decision of the majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland to stay in the EU must be respected as much as the decision of those in England and Wales to quit. File photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

 

Scotland and Northern Ireland must be fully represented and consulted in all and any negotiations ahead of any formal move to take the UK out of the European Union, a Scottish National Party MP has insisted.

Stephen Gethins told an SDLP Brexit forum in Belfast on Wednesday the decision of the majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland to stay in the EU must be respected as much as the decision of those in England and Wales to quit.

“Any new settlement must reflect the political reality. Scotland and Northern Ireland must be fully represented in all and any negotiations and consulted before the Article 50 is lodged,” said Mr Gethins.

“Leadership will be critical in this process and since we are seeing precious little from Westminster devolved administrations have a crucial role,” Mr Gethins added.

John McGrane, director general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, called for a trade deal that allows the “free movement of people, goods, services and capital in a borderless fashion”.

Angela McGowan, the Danske Bank chief economist, said there was now “heightened uncertainty” about post-Brexit markets, taxation, investment and even cross-border trade.

UK policymakers recognised that all economic levers, including monetary and tax stimuli, will play an important role: “In our view that is the correct approach,” she added.

Prof David Phinnemore of the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast, said negotiating a new relationship with the EU was going to be an extremely difficult task.

“The EU is a tough negotiator, will stick to a balance of rights and obligations, and will not entertain cherry-picking,” he warned.

Leadership

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who later travelled to Dublin on Wednesday to meet the Fianna Fáil and Labour Party leaders, said that the 56 per cent of people in the North who voted to remain in the EU, were looking for leadership and direction.

“The current political limbo in London must not deter us from immediately exploring every avenue which protects the interests of this island,” he said.

Mr Eastwood said the DUP First Minister Arlene Foster was “ill-advised in warning the Irish Government not to represent Northern interests in the forthcoming negotiations.

“The uncomfortable truth our First Minister must eventually face is that the 56 per cent who voted remain welcome any intervention which is designed to protect the economic and social benefits flowing from EU membership. Many of those people come from the unionist community,” he said.

Meanwhile, DUP MPs Nigel Dodds and Ian Paisley have had discussions with British cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin about Brexit.

“We outlined the absolute necessity of the Northern Ireland Executive being involved at every step in the process both at official and Ministerial levels and in every department,” said the Mr Dodds and Mr Paisley. “It is extremely important that the government is committed to that process and it good that that work is now under way.”

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said that the British Conservative government through leaving the EU was planning a “bonfire of human and workers rights”.

“This Conservative Cabinet of millionaires wants to abolish maternity leave, abandon restrictions on long working hours and abandon certain rights and workers’ consultation by employers, especially redundancy pay,” she said.

“The people of the North voted to remain in the EU, complete with its protections for workers rights, and that vote must be respected.”