Councillors respond to ‘Brexit’

The UK referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union takes place on Thursday, June 23.
The UK referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union takes place on Thursday, June 23.
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Local councillors have been sharing their responses to last week’s EU Referendum result.

Although Northern Ireland voted to remain within the European Union, the overall vote of the UK was to leave - securing a vote to ‘Brexit’.

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Political parties in Northern Ireland have both celebrated and lamented the result.

UKIP Cllr David Jones commented: “Upper Bann made the right choice - a choice for freedom, enterprise, business and prosperity. Leaving the EU opens up a world of opportunity for the country because we can actually control the levers of the economy which are currently denied to us by the straightjacket of the EU. We can begin to think what has up to now been unthinkable.”

He concluded: “Brexit means freedom. The vote for the UK to leave the EU will enable us to regain control and to do what is best for us, not what is best for Eastern Europe.”

In the Upper Bann area, 27,262 voters were in favour of leaving the EU in comparison to the 24,550 who voted to remain. However in Northern Ireland as a whole, the remain votes outnumbered the leavers by almost 91.000.

Cllr Paul Berry echoed Jones’ sentiments: “It’s time to take back control of our country and decide how we spend the monies that we have wasted in the EU for years. We can use it for the benefirt of our UK citizens. Whilst I appreciate there are many uncertainties and concerns, the remain supporters must accept the democratic decision and now unite to make this country great again.”

The DUP, who were strong advocates for leave from the start, welcomed the result.

“The EU has become a continual drain on our national finances and we should now be able to spend more on what matters most to the people of the UK,” said Mr Sydney Anderson MLA. “It is vital that political representatives direct their full energies towards enacting the will of the people and ensure that the UK can have a bright future outside of the EU.”

His colleague, Cllr Jonathan Buckley, agreed: “I firmly believe that the UK can now look forward with optimism to a new and positive era of cooperation with Europe and the wider world.”

Other parties have not been so quick to celebrate.

Sinn Féin MLA for Upper Bann, Catherine Seeley, described the result as ‘heart wrenching’:

“The vast majority of 18-25 year olds voted to remain. I want to express solidarity with young people right across Britain who have been let down by inter-party rivalry in a campaign whereby their interests were not at the heart. Let there be no doubt – young people will disproportionately bear the brunt and the effects will be long-lasting.

“In the coming days and weeks, Upper Bann will welcome Syrian refugee families into their communities. I implore my constituents to extend a warm welcome. Sadly this whole debate has given rise to the type of poisonous politics that we should never have witnessed. This is not the future our young people voted for. I call on all those across Britain and Ireland – favouring remain - to come together to explore options pertaining to the EU and continuing relations.”

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said that his party was shocked by the result: “This is very much a leap into the unknown and unfortunately even though NI and Scotland voted decisively to Remain we are being dragged out by the response of ‘middle England ‘ on immigration in particular. This will be a trying time for businesses and in particular for our farmers who are very worried about their futures. As our First Minister will almost certainly be representing NI’s interest in the exit negotiations, we would expect that she will acknowledge the mandate that the people have given her and not the stance taken by her party in the referendum.”

Since the EU Referendum result was announced on Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned and there is uncertainty about how ‘brexit’ will pan out.