‘I’m a unionist to the soles of my feet’ says Foreign Secretary on ‘tough’ Northern Ireland talks

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Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

“We want to make sure the people, the politicians, and the businesses feel meaningfully part of the United Kingdom.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has admitted the Government’s “complicated” negotiations with Northern Ireland concerning Brexit remain “tough.”

Speaking exclusively to GB News today (Saturday), Mr Cleverly said: “I had always committed not to give a running commentary and it has proven to be a successful formula thus far, so I’m going to stick with it. Of course, we want to get this resolved. 

“The people of Northern Ireland deserve to have their institutions back up and running. They deserve to be a fully integrated part of the United Kingdom – which of course they are, we want to protect that. We want to protect the east-west trade. 

“These are things that we are negotiating, the negotiating has been tough and complicated, but they’ve been entered into in good spirits with good faith. I really hope that we can get this resolved, but we will resolve this when we have addressed all the issues that we are seeking to resolve rather than some arbitrary deadline.”

Outlining one of the main objectives driving the talks, he continued: “We want to make sure all communities in Northern Ireland and their representatives including the Unionist community and the Unionist political parties are comfortable with the arrangements that are in place that underpins the Belfast Good Friday agreement. We want to make sure the people, the politicians, and the businesses feel meaningfully part of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister is a unionist, I’m a unionist to the soles of my feet and this will always be at the forefront of our negotiations.

“The whole point of these negotiations and the whole point of us laying the bill in the first place was to give us multiple ways of trying to address the issues with the Northern Ireland protocol. So my focus is on getting the result rather than the mechanism to get results.The bill is there, and the negotiations are ongoing but ultimately, I would say to everyone, I’ve said this publicly before, we remain focused on the outcome rather than the method. 

“The outcome is to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom to make sure that people, businesses and political representatives are comfortable with a resolution whilst also making sure that we protect the UK internal market – those are very much our motivations. That is what will drive our actions.

Commenting on the position of Labour in terms of Brexit he added: “The message that I’ve been picking up on the doorstep on opinion polls is that Labour has spectacularly failed to make the case. Now I know that what we need to do is demonstrate to the British people that we are addressing the issues that they are concerned about: bringing down inflation, making sure interest rates come down, growing the economy, and cutting those NHS waiting lists. These are the things that we are relentlessly focused on and as the British people see success in those areas, I think they will be reassured that the Conservative Party is the best party of government. We will be increasingly looking at the Labour party’s failure to be on the right side of any of these arguments, the wrong side of industrial disputes, the wrong side in terms of our departure from the European Union. Time after time the Labour party has got it wrong.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Golly “feel meaningfully part of “ is not the same as “are part of” can’t even bring himself to say it. If the acts of union are not restored after this deal then it should be abandoned. Then proceed with current bill. A unionist would be talking the deal through with unionists not hiding it

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