PM statement in Northern Ireland: 25 July 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement following discussions with the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
I stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street and said that my government will be a government for the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland is a valued part and I’m very clear that the government will deliver on the Stormont House Agreement and the Fresh Start Agreement.
We’ve had very constructive talks – positive talks – this morning with the First Minister and the deputy First Minister. We concentrated on the impact of the referendum vote, Brexit means Brexit but we will be making a success of it. I’m clear that the Northern Ireland Executive and the devolved governments will be involved in our discussions as we set forward the UK position.
I recognise the particular circumstances in Northern Ireland because of course it has a land border with a country that will be remaining in the EU. We’ve had constructive talks about the will that we all have to find a way through this in the best interest of Northern Ireland and the best interest of the UK as a whole.
During the referendum campaign you said it would be inconceivable that there would be no changes to the border in the event of Brexit? What do you now see those changes as being? How do you define a hard border? And where in your mind is the border? – is it between the Republic and the North, or between the North and the rest of the UK?
Well if you look ahead, what is going to happen, when the UK leaves the European Union is that of course, here Northern Ireland will have a border with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain a member of the EU. But we’d had a common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland for many years before either country was a member of the EU.
Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past – what we do want to do is to find a way through this that is going to work and deliver a practical solution for everybody, as part of the work we’re doing to ensure that we make a success of the UK leaving the EU and that we come out of this with a deal in the interest of the whole of the UK.