‘I don’t know if the news has reached Dublin, David Cameron has resigned’

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson says Brexit offers opportunities for Northern Ireland

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said the Brexit result provides many opportunities for Northern Ireland.

He said he wants the North to maintain a trading partnership with the EU but that the Brexit referendum result should be respected across the UK.

"David Cameron won't be negotiating the new deal. I don't know if you heard his interview and the speech he made after the referendum – that news might not have reached Dublin yet ... he won't be in charge," he said on RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

"We will be in a very strong position to influence what happens next, not only are we one of the two parties in the Northern Ireland government, and the prime minister made clear that the Northern Ireland government will be involved in negotiations, we are also well represented in parliament, we are very close to the people who will be leading the negotiations on behalf of the UK.

Mr Donaldson said the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU and that decision must be respected. Although Northern Ireland voted to remaining in the EU, the majority of Leave votes came from the unionist community. Unlike the SNP in Scotland, unionist leaders have not been calling for the North to remain part of the EU.

“So what we will be looking for will be measures that will ensure Northern Ireland’s financial stability. We will be looking for a strong package for our farmers, our agri food industry to ensure that it continues to thrive, favourable trading conditions to ensure we continue to do business with our European neighbours, now we have the opportunity to do new trade deals with other countries as well.

“Internally we will be looking to our relationship with Dublin — how that will work out in practice, we will be in negotiations about our new relationship post the EU and how the political institutions will operate in that context.

“For the record, we don’t see any major change in how the North-South Ministerial Council, the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly operate. As far as the agreements are concerned they will be honoured. We will certainly be doing our part to honour them.”

He rejected a suggestion that farmers in Northern Ireland will suffer once EU funding is withdrawn. “Given that the UK provides £8.5billion net per year to the EU, it’s hard to see how we’re going to be worse off. We’re going to have a lot more money in our own Exchequer and Northern Ireland, under the Barnet formula, will be entitled to a share of that additional money which can be used to support our agri industry and help us achieve our financial objectives.”

He said that the DUP would be negotiating for the continuation of the Common Travel Area.