Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that he and his party will do everything possible to help secure the best possible outcome as the UK’s decision to leave the EU is implemented.
Mr Nicholson also reiterated his call for cool heads in the wake of the referendum.
Commenting Mr Nicholson said: “We have entered a period of uncertainty. The challenge now is that we secure the best possible outcome as the result of the EU referendum is implemented, this requires cool heads.
“In my view the actions and comments of Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, during David Cameron’s efforts to secure reforms and in recent days following the referendum have been unhelpful. As I said during a debate in Strasbourg this week he is part of the problem, not the solution. He should step aside ahead of the crucial negotiations that will determine the UK’s relationship with the EU.
“Article 50, which starts the formal withdrawal negotiations, has not yet been triggered. It is for the UK prime minister and the UK prime minister alone to decide when to invoke Article 50, not Jean-Claude Juncker or anyone else. Until these talks are concluded, or until the two year period for negotiating the terms of withdrawal expires, the UK remains a member of the EU with all of the associated rights and obligations. In recent days some of Jean-Claude Juncker’s actions would suggest that the UK had already left the EU.
“This means that for now Northern Ireland’s farmers continue to have access to the single market and CAP support – I welcome that the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, has sought to reassure the industry by confirming this in the past few days by writing to the UFU and the rest of the UK’s farming unions.”
Mr Nicholson continued: “We now need cool heads to assess the situation and then work to achieve the best possible outcome.
“From speaking to the wider NI business community it is however clear that there is an urgent need for the NI Executive to provide an action plan to build confidence and reassure businesses in all sectors. The Ulster Unionist Party is currently engaging with businesses, academia and the voluntary sector to discuss the way forward.
“I, and my Ulster Unionist Party colleagues, will continue to work closely with local stakeholders in the weeks and months ahead to help secure the best possible deal for the UK, and within that Northern Ireland’s economy, including of course agri-food and society. We must ensure we are best placed to respond to future challenges and opportunities.”