Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned the Government against any internal UK border or barriers to trade, when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Mr Nicholson met with Brexit minister Robin Walker in Brussels this week.
Speaking after the meeting, he also highlighted the need for “new, creative customs arrangements” to allow free movement of people, goods and services across the border with the Irish Republic.
Mr Nicholson said: “It has been very clear throughout Brexit discussions and now negotiations that no party involved wants a ‘hard border’ between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Having this political will is an important first step, but we also have to realise that finding a solution will require hard work and new, creative customs arrangements.
“However, any attempts to create barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would be unacceptable. Drawing a border down the Irish Sea would risk barriers to trade for Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom - which is by far our largest single market for sales.
“I made it clear to Brexit minister Robin Walker that we in Northern Ireland do not want to be second class UK citizens.
“We are a full, integral part of the United Kingdom. Any internal UK border would diminish the integrity of the Union, and significantly weaken our local economy.
“On recent developments in Westminster, I pressed the fact that our communities need to fully benefit from new money coming into Northern Ireland.
“For our citizens to reap the benefits of this deal it must be effectively managed, strategically spent and fully delivered on time.”