Concern for NI executive role in Brexit talks following UK trade threat

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By Aine McMahon

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill are seeking a meeting with Michael Gove following the publication by Westminster of the UK's approach to negotiations.

On Thursday, the UK threatened to abandon talks with the European Union and prepare for trade with no deal from the end of the year if there is insufficient progress towards reaching agreement by the end of June.

Mr Gove told MPs the UK wanted to strike a "comprehensive free trade agreement" in 10 months.

Ms Foster said it is vital that the Northern Ireland Executive is given a full and meaningful role in shaping the future relationship with the European Union.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: "Our involvement in the decisions that affect the people of Northern Ireland is crucial.

"Although political differences exist, the Executive is working together to ensure the best possible outcome for people living here.

"Our priority is to ensure that the needs of Northern Ireland are understood and reflected as we move forward as our particular circumstances require very specific solutions.

"We need to work together to protect our economy and ensure that every possible step is taken to facilitate trade east west and north south."

The deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said "We are in a unique position.

"However, the interdependencies between the protocol and the trade negotiations are not recognised in the British Government's Mandate.

"The Executive is working to ensure that our businesses do not face increased costs, especially in terms of movement of goods north south or east west.

"We have requested to meet Michael Gove where I will raise these concerns."

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