SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said a good deal for the nationalist and unionist peoples on the island of Ireland must not be blocked by misplaced or misleading fears surrounding the constitutional question.
The Foyle MLA said: “Despite the ongoing political fallout in Westminster, discussions and decisions on Brexit will soon return to the practical reality that the substance of the text temporarily agreed on Monday remains the only way to prevent a hard border on this island.
“It is the best deal on the table and it is the only deal on the table – one way or another it will need to be signed.
“It is clear that the British Government came to recognise that reality when they agreed to the text on Monday morning and I remain hopeful that they will return to that logic before long.
“The DUP don’t speak for the people of the North.
“They don’t and can’t hold a veto over the future of this island and our relationship with Europe. The British Government needs to stop indulging them in that belief.
“I would also urge unionists, particularly those in our business community, who oppose the DUP’s agenda of economic self-harm to use their influence ahead of the EU summit next week.
“As the leader of an Irish nationalist party, I believe I hold a special responsibility to give proper reassurance to unionism in Northern Ireland as a result of the inevitable constitutional fallout from Brexit.
“Misplaced and misleading fears regarding the constitutional question must not stand in the way of a good deal for the unionist and nationalist peoples who share this island.
“This is not a land grab on the part of Irish nationalism nor is it an attempt to change the historic accommodation we have reached on this island and between the islands of Ireland and Britain.
“Our interest actually lies in fully protecting those agreements and ensuring their integrity and their stability.
“The constitutional future of this island can only be changed and be decided upon by the Irish people across the island, north and south.
“The authority of that position and our commitment to the principle of consent remains as strong as ever.
“The constitutional future of this island will be the product of persuasion as set out in the Good Friday Agreement. It is the only way we would wish to achieve a New Ireland.
“This is our position and belief pre-Brexit and it will remain our position post-Brexit – it will not change,” added Mr Eastwood.