The Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney addressed the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce this morning about Brexit and some of the British government proposals.
In his remarks he urged the UK to remain in the Single Market;
Simply put, EU Member States will not countenance a partnership which allows the UK to benefit from full EU access while cutting separate deals with countries that don’t share our standards or systems.
And that has obvious implications on this island. For example, how can the UK expect to maintain an open border, an objective we all share, while asking Ireland and other EU Member States to accept that beef that doesn’t meet European standards can be easily brought into Ireland from Northern Ireland without the necessary controls?
This simply doesn’t tally with the UK’s other stated objective of not wishing to undermine the integrity of the Single Market and Customs Union and doing nothing that damages Ireland and our political, social and economic interests.
Continued membership of this Customs Union and Single Market – or something very like it – is the answer. And you have to tell your elected representatives that that is the case.
We were distraught at the UK vote to leave the EU, we don’t deny that. But we have accepted it. What we won’t accept is that people voted explicitly to leave a Customs Union or Single Market. They didn’t, and history shouldn’t be re-written to pretend that they did.
Do not underestimate your influence here. You have real influence over the politicians that serve this community. And with the current arithmetic in Westminster, and the stance now taken by the leading opposition party in the Commons, your politicians have a remarkable opportunity to influence the final approach the UK government takes.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs