Brexit Day: ‘A Day We Never Wanted To See’
Today is a day that people in Derry, and across the North, never wanted to see.
Today is the day we are forced out of the European Union against our wishes. This is a day that we in the SDLP deeply regret.
We have been proudly pro-European for almost 50 years. Our founder John Hume greatly valued the co-operation and support he experienced at the heart of the European Parliament.
Over many years, the North has benefited greatly from our EU membership financially, politically and culturally. People across the North understand this and it is why in 2016, we voted to remain. We did not consent to this Brexit and it is being forced upon us.
Here in Derry, people are acutely aware of the threat of Brexit to our way of life. People in this city value a day spent in Donegal and we do not want borders on our island. This is the very reason that people in our city voted overwhelmingly against leaving the European Union.
While we worked hard to secure no borders on our island, there will now be a trade differential between us and our neighbours. We will feel the impact of this greatly.
While we deeply regret this decision, our priority has shifted to ensuring we protect our interests and try to limit the damage Brexit will inflict on our people.
SDLP MPs have worked with parties across Westminster to put forward amendments on ensuring our businesses have unfettered access to markets and there are no barriers to trade, protection of the NHS from privatisation and mitigating the impact of Brexit on the climate emergency.
We have been constructive and at the back of our minds has been, and will always be, the people of the North and their wishes. We will always prioritise assuring the rights of our citizens remain and will fight hard to ensure their protection.
Today is a day that nobody wanted to see and we will always keep fighting for our best interests.