Nicholson highlights Brexit concerns

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that developing a workable post-Brexit solution that avoids a hard border with the Republic of Ireland will require creative thinking and cool heads - not what he termed ‘megaphone diplomacy’.

Addressing EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee this week Mr Nicholson highlighted producers’ concerns surrounding the Brexit-related uncertainty that lies ahead.

Speaking after the debate in Strasbourg Mr Nicholson said: “Commissioner Hogan was in County Monaghan last week with the EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier discussing the difficulties a hard border post-Brexit could pose, particularly for the agri-food industry.

“At the moment Northern Ireland food and farming is facing immense uncertainty not just specifically relating to the border but in terms of the entire Brexit negotiation. I put it to the Commissioner this week that the producers I spoke to at the recent Balmoral Show were worried about this lack of certainty.

“I also expressed my concern to Commissioner Hogan that with a General Election taking place in the United Kingdom, and with the 27 remaining EU Member States coming to common positions on the Brexit negotiations, we are witnessing ‘megaphone diplomacy’ across the English Channel which is unhelpful.

“We all recognise that reaching agreement on a deep and comprehensive deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union will not be easy - but it would be the best outcome for all parties. Solving Brexit related problems will require creative thinking and cool heads – developing solutions around the negotiating table is the way forward, not trading soundbites on the airwaves and in the newspapers.”