Ritchie calls for tariff free access to single market

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SDLP MP for South Down, Margaret Ritchie, has called on the Prime Minister to secure tariff free access to the Single Market for Northern Ireland following the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons on the triggering of Article 50.

Ms Ritchie said the EU Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, indicated his appreciation for the unique threat Brexit poses to Northern Ireland and has volunteered his own personal memories of his involvement in the peace process and establishment of the cross-border Special EU Programmes Body.

She added: “Mr Barnier has reiterated that protecting our peace settlement is one of the top priorities on his agenda.

“Therefore the UK Government should make the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area priorities in early negotiations on the framework for the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

“Similarly the Prime Minister must realise that tariff free access to the Single Market is essential for many sectors in Northern Ireland’s economy, not least due to our extensive trade with the Republic of Ireland. The small and medium sized businesses in constituencies like South Down would suffer the detrimental consequences of this.

“I urged the Prime Minister to protect our economy by seeking this tariff free access and to ensure that there are no barriers, physical or regulatory, for trade between North and South.”