Congress Statement on Proposed Brexit Agreement

17 Oct 2019

Owen Brexit 1

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions notes the proposed agreement arrived at between the EU 27 and the UK government this morning on Brexit. We are currently analysing the detail of this proposal and its implications.

As an all island body representing workers across the island who come from a number of traditions, we must analyse the text from this context. However, our initial observations are that it remains to be seen whether this text will receive the support of the House of Commons.

The ICTU supported, albeit reluctantly, the previous Withdrawal Agreement as it did less harm to the island of Ireland. We greatly regret any form of Brexit. It seems on our initial assessment that this text is a slightly lesser version of the original Withdrawal Agreement with a new mechanism to replace the NI backstop, but that essentially will do what a backstop was intended to do, albeit with some democratic oversight from the Assembly.

It seems to suggest that a hard border on the island of Ireland will be avoided by NI essentially operating to the EU customs union and aligned significantly with the EU single market. What is critical if Brexit is to occur is that we have an agreement, and whilst this agreement is a slightly different version of the original Withdrawal Agreement, it may be sufficient.

We will examine the full text in detail and make further comment in due course.