Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-
“The UK/EU agreement leaves unanswered many important questions.
“In reading it I am first struck by the imbalance in commitments it contains. It is largely one way traffic with the focus on UK commitments. Paragraph 45 is important in this regard. There the UK respects Ireland’s place and obligations in the EU single market and customs Union, but there is no reciprocity with no record of the EU recognising the integrity of the UK’s internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it. Only the UK itself goes on record to do so. Why is the EU withholding recognition of the integrity of the UK internal market? The absence of such sets a skewed context for resolving the trading issues which now arise.
“The default position, if there is no UK/EU trade deal, is wholly prejudicial to Northern Ireland’s complete leaving of the EU. This default position, if there is no deal, leaves us entrapped within the EU’s single market and customs union on an unspecified, but clearly extensive, range of issues, whereas the rest of the UK would be liberated from such.
“Herein, we come to the unresolved contradiction in the agreement: on one hand there is this default position and on the other the UK commits to no new regulatory barriers between NI and GB. The reconciliation of these stances is unexplained. The UK pledge of unfettered access for NI business to the whole of the UK internal market is not reciprocated with a promise of equal unfettered access from GB to NI, which could become significant in the context of future UK trade deals with third countries. Are we in Northern Ireland to be inhibited in our enjoyment of the benefits of such because of being shackled to the EU single market and customs Union?
“For all these reasons this agreement does not in my view bring the clarity and assurance of complete Brexit which Northern Ireland requires. Coming anywhere close to such depends on the hope of a workable UK/EU trade deal, which the very existence of the foolish default position may parry. The terms of the default position – which is the most critical aspect of the deal – may prove a disincentive towards a deal for those whose biggest priority is to fuse Northern Ireland into the Republic. This is not a good position for us to be in.”