United Kingdom Withdrawal from the European Union

Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 pm on 27th June 2016.

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Debate resumed on motion:

That this Assembly notes the result of the referendum on European Union membership; and calls on the Executive to set out, in the immediate future, their response to the consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. — [Mr Nesbitt.]

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

From where we sit, and in virtually all whom I spoke to over the weekend, there is a palpable sense of loss after the vote last week: a sense of loss of place, of who we are and want to be; a sense of loss of influence and identity; and a loss of funds. I say that because the bombastic approach taken by some in the DUP during the debate is in marked contrast with the scale of the decision last week and its consequences. I hope that the bombastic approach of the few will be replaced by a more discerning approach by the many. I hope that, even in the last hour or two, that has been better understood by the DUP.

There has been discussion about how nationalism has responded to the vote last week. Speaking on behalf of those who have been democratic and nationalist, without apology and without exception over the last 45 years of the SDLP, we find the decision upsetting, game-changing and immense in its consequences. Maybe that is quite natural, because the democratic nationalist tradition on this island, be it in the North or in the South, identified itself more as European. We were more influenced by John Hume and his recognition that the European project was the biggest peace project in the western world, and we were more attached to the three strands of the Good Friday Agreement and its unspoken fourth strand of accommodating difference in the European context.

I think that there is a sense of loss, bewilderment, upset and even anger within nationalism and republicanism, but I sense that those feelings exist also, to some degree, within unionism. The figures will confirm that a greater percentage pro rata of unionists in Northern Ireland voted to remain than the percentage of nationalists who voted to leave. For all those reasons —

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

Well, the figures will confirm that. For all those reasons, the scale of what happened last week, in the politics and culture of this island, needs to be recognised. That is not about a rush to a vote for a vote's sake on the existence of the border, which has been the approach of some in recent days. It is to recognise that, because of last Thursday, the dynamic in the politics of this island and these islands is different from any time over the last 50 years. In my view, the consequence of that — this is why I am hopeful and positive about the future — is that people will begin to reimagine a future different from the past and try to make the future bigger and bolder than the good that we achieved in the past.

I say, especially to the First Minister, that in the management of this issue over the next two years, the scale of this cannot be handled, as Mark Durkan put it to the Assembly group this morning, through the usual diplomatic channels. The paradigm has changed, and it has changed utterly. Those in the DUP and elsewhere in politics in the North, who want to put all their eggs in the Boris basket, will quickly learn how shallow a strategy that is. That is why the SDLP again calls on the Irish Government to invite the parties in the North and the South to come together in a forum for the future —

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

I will shortly. That is why we call for a forum to recognise the paradigm shift that occurred last Thursday and to recognise that to rely on London in the next two years is a strategy of folly — thoughtless folly at that. I will give way to the Member.

Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party

Does the Member agree that the protection of free movement on this island is paramount, not just for the 30,000 who cross the border every day but for businesses that trade in Ireland?

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

The Member has an extra minute.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

Thank you, Mr Speaker. That is why the Irish Government should convene a forum for the future. We need to recognise that those who, as Mark Durkan said, tailgate London as the road to the future, will realise that they have been left behind in some other place down that road. Every time we rely on London, especially when it comes to money, in every negotiation with Blair and Brown or Cameron and Villiers, they have come up short.

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

I will give way in a second.

How much shorter will they be in this negotiation, given the trauma and fallout of what has happened?

Secondly, I ask the deputy First Minister how we will deal with the immediate consequences of what will happen — this is the next two years, it is not even beyond two years. Higher inflation —

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I ask the Member to conclude his remarks.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

— a revised downwards economic forecast, the fiscal surplus by 2019-2020 out the window, corporation tax in jeopardy, firms denied market access and —

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

The Member's time is up.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

— investment deferred. How, in real time —

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

The Member's time is up.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

— in the real lives of people will we deal with all that?

Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance

Health is, without question, one of the areas that will be most negatively affected by the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union. That is why it was so outrageous that the "Leave" campaign used the notion of redirecting £50 million per day from EU contributions to the NHS when it was clear that they had neither the intention nor the power to make that happen.

Even according to the "Leave" campaign's figures, Northern Ireland is a net beneficiary from the EU, and the economic damage that is already apparent in the withdrawal of investment, only this morning, demonstrates that that supposed extra money simply does not exist —

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance

I will give way in a minute.

It does not exist, even at a UK level, in any case. Yet, many of the people who voted to leave last Thursday to will have listened to that pledge and, more importantly, will have believed it. It will have informed their choice. Many of them will be very vulnerable and very reliant on the health and social care sector and will now feel very deceived by the political class, who, frankly, should have known better.

It is well documented that the most marginalised communities across the United Kingdom will be those most reliant on an effective and responsive health and social care sector. People living with a long-term condition or those who care for them were led to believe that Brexit was an opportunity to invest in local services, to provide more appointments with GPs and to speed up surgical procedures. As all in the House know, all politics is local, and some people will have naturally seen the referendum through that prism of being reliant on a well-resourced health sector.

Already, prominent "Leave" campaigners have admitted that that is simply not so. The reality of leaving the EU, particularly if we are forced out of the single market, is that there will be a very significant impact on medical advancement through the end of EU-funded, EU-wide medical research projects in which academics and medical researchers share knowledge and resources to contribute to the advancement of less-intrusive screening, quicker diagnoses, and the discovery of treatments and medical equipment that improve prognoses for patients. We will now be outside those processes, and it will cost us dearly, not just financially but in human costs, to avail ourselves of that research for local application.

I turn now to our nearest EU partner. Thankfully, over the last few years, we have seen the emergence of mature political cooperation on the island of Ireland, nowhere more so than in healthcare.

There are now high-profile cross-border arrangements for children's cardiac surgery procedures, for example, that 25 children from Northern Ireland have benefited from since 2014, and there is the cross-border healthcare directive, which is an EU directive that allows people to avail themselves of services and programmes in other EU countries if they are not available in their own country. For example, the Smarmore Castle Private Clinic has helped many individuals in Northern Ireland avail themselves of residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, which is a service that is not available here. Those are just a few examples.

Most recently, the very high-profile expert panel, which is led by Professor Bengoa, told us, as I suppose he told all parties, that he is holding meetings with the Health Department in the Republic of Ireland to see where both of us can look at aligning all-Ireland reform of our neighbouring health and social care sectors. We both have finite resources and see that strong cross-community cooperation is vital.

The question now for the Executive is this: what is the contingency plan to ensure that that cross-border cooperation can continue to ensure that Northern Ireland's health and social care sector can access the latest medical research and avoid being forced to withdraw from a single market against the will of the majority of people in Northern Ireland? I emphasise to the House that it would be the height of irresponsibility if the Executive have no such plan in place.

Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green

I went to bed at around midnight on Thursday night listening to Nigel Farage effectively give up the ghost and accept that the vote was going against him. I woke up at 4.00 am to see Nigel Farage on the TV again making his victory speech. I have to say that it has been one of the most sickening experiences I have had since I got involved and interested in politics. That is a very emotional response. It is not what is important, but I think it speaks to a lot of this campaign. It has been emotional; it has been emotive.

I also think it has put together strange bedfellows. The "Leave" campaign consisted of what was, on the one hand, the far right, and on the other hand, the far left, united in a campaign to leave the EU. Already we have seen the numerous claims tumble. The £350 million a week that we were supposed to save by leaving the EU was a blatant lie, and those in the "Leave" campaign admit now that that was the case. They said we could spend that money on the NHS. They were clever in their choice of words; they said "could", not "will", but it was a clear and intentional deception.

Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green

In one second I will. Then they talked of control of our borders. There was the idea of a fortress UK, and at the same time they told us here in Northern Ireland that we did not need to worry about border controls.

Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance

I thank the Member for giving way. On his point about the choice of words in particular, does he agree that it went beyond a careful choice of words when it said on the poster, "Let's" spend it on the NHS, not, "We might" or, "We could"? It is quite a serious thing in an election or referendum campaign to blatantly lie about how money will be spent.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

The Member has an extra minute.

Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green

I thank the Member for her intervention. I completely agree with her that it was a deception. When we have such a close result, there are questions to be asked about how much people, already and still today, stand over the vote to leave. It is clear in Northern Ireland that we did not vote to leave. I think that presents a challenge to our First Minister, because, whilst the Prime Minister announced his resignation because he did not get the vote he campaigned for, it is clear that our First Minister did not get the vote she campaigned for. Going forward, we need to ask whether the First Minister will represent the people in Northern Ireland. We are going to have negotiations —

A Member:

Will the Member take a point?

Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green

I have given way, and my time is running out. We are going to have negotiations about how this will affect Northern Ireland. Will she represent the 56% in Northern Ireland who voted to remain? Will she ensure that her colleagues in the "Leave" campaign meet their commitments that there will be more spending on public services in Northern Ireland as a result, and that there will not be stricter controls on the Irish border?

One of the startling things for me about the response was the number of people who said to me they had sentiments along the lines of, "I went to bed on Thursday as a constitutional unionist. I woke up on Friday as a nationalist". I think that the degree of instability that this vote has thrown up —

[Laughter.]

Members may laugh, and it is shocking that people are saying that, but it is what I am hearing. We have seen the evidence, and we have seen Ian Paisley MP talking about people coming to him for an Irish passport. I have certainly seen people come to me for Irish passports. That may be a practical measure rather than an emotional one, but I think that it is part of the indication of the instability —

Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green

I have said that I will not give way at this point.

I think that it is part of the indication of the instability that this vote has thrown up.

We need to act with clarity, calmness and caution. We are going to have a new Prime Minister, and there is a possibility that we could have a new general election. We need our First Minister acting on our behalf. What we do not need is a First Minister for unionism or a First Minister who puts first being leader of the DUP. What we need is a First Minister who will represent the people of Northern Ireland, who said that they wish to remain, and we need her to take that argument in the negotiations going forward in the days, weeks, months and, indeed, possibly years that are ahead of us.

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

Let me deal first with the nonsense that was talked earlier today in the Chamber about people on the left who advised a vote to leave — that such people must be in alignment with and supporting Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the rest of that crew across the water. That is absolutely untrue. People Before Profit is quite able to articulate its own particular position, which is different from that of Boris Johnson and is also different from that of the leadership of the "Remain" side. Some years ago, I was active in a referendum in the South —

Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance

I thank the Member for giving way. He said that he can articulate a position that is different to Boris Johnson's. Can he deliver it?

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

I will articulate it now and explain how we propose to deliver it. If you had waited a few minutes, you would not have had to jump to your feet and ask the question.

[Laughter.]

I fully intended to do that. Yes, I will. It is an obvious question, and it is in my mind too. You do not have to invite me to do it.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

The Member has an extra minute.

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

Thank you very much. That is great.

People Before Profit has always rejected — I have always rejected — the European Union. We reject it now because we reject the rottenness that the EU represents. If you want to know the true nature of the EU, just look back a year. We heard an awful lot of the argument that leaving the EU will threaten spending on community projects, destroy jobs, destroy wages, destroy infrastructure and all the rest of it. Will it, indeed? If you worried about that in the referendum, look back to what the EU did to Greece, when the Greek people in a referendum voted to reject the austerity policies of the European Union.

Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party

Does the Member acknowledge that the people of Greece, with respect to the Government in Greece, made very poor domestic decisions? Does the Member acknowledge that the ratepayers and taxpayers across Europe had an entitlement to not keep paying the bailout money?

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

So much for the lady's commitment to democracy. Do I agree that the Greek people voted in a stupid way? That is what she is asking. It does not matter how the people in the cradle of democracy voted. That was the clear implication of your question; of course it was.

The EU rejected that referendum result precisely because it wanted to impose austerity, it wanted the Greek Government to cut social spending and it wanted funding withdrawn from all sorts of community groups.

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

No, thanks.

In other words, they wanted to do all of the things that some people in this House are now claiming that we could not do if we left the EU.

They should consider the words of Walter Scott:

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!"

And they were deceiving. So was the "Remain" camp, and the "Out" camp across the border.

Photo of Stewart Dickson Stewart Dickson Alliance

The Member suggests that the European Union was a tangled web to deceive. Was it deceiving when it gave women rights? Was it deceiving when it gave us environmental rights? Was it deceiving when it gave us employment rights? Was it deceiving when it saved refugees? No, it was not.

[Interruption.]

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

I will start at the end: the EU saving refugees? It has erected barbed wire barricades around fortress Europe. Somebody referred to fortress UK and immigrants. The main fortress being erected in Europe is in the European Union. Not only do we have barbed wire fences around the edges of it, we have barbed wire fences within it to stop the movement of people who do not qualify. Around the borders of Hungary and in Serbia and Slovenia, you see barbed wire fences.

This is not an organisation that is pulling people together in a benign way. It is dividing people; it is racist. The agreement made between the EU and Turkey was, "You take one back, and we'll send one over". That is treating human beings like commodities to be swapped in a barter market. What a disgusting and disgraceful thing to do. Why is it that not a mention of that has been made?

People here talk about the EU and give the impression that it is a benign organisation that has the interests of ordinary people in this country or anywhere else at heart. They are out talking, rightly so, about the need to go to Dublin and talk to the Dublin Government. Anybody remember what happened in the South of Ireland when the European Commission disapproved of what the elected Irish Government were doing? They were told by the European Commission, "Do what you're told or — the quote was — 'a bomb will go off in Dublin'". That is what they were told. Not an explosive device, presumably, but a financial and economic bomb threatened them.

Now, so many people in Dublin are praising the EU that they seem to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. There were times over the past few days watching the football when I thought that I was transferring my allegiance from one day to another from the occupied Six Counties to the occupied Twenty-six Counties.

[Interruption.]

One hundred years after 1916, national independence, how are you? The European Union will not stand for national independence in any sense at all. It is an oppressive body.

Who is the European Commission answerable to? Does anybody here know? I will tell you: it is answerable to the bankers; that is in whose interests it has operated throughout the period of austerity. It is answerable to the more belligerent sections of the European bourgeoisie; it is not answerable to anybody else. Nobody elected it.

Of course, the British Commissioner resigned on Friday. Anybody know who he was?

Some Members:

Lord Hill.

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

Lord Hill was the man. How many people are aware of Lord Hill?

[Interruption.]

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I ask the Member to conclude his remarks.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

Conclude your remarks.

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

You did give me that extra minute, you know.

[Laughter.]

I will end with this, on the question of Scotland and Northern Ireland —

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I call Mr Jim Allister.

Photo of Eamonn McCann Eamonn McCann People Before Profit Alliance

OK, I will leave it, but I have more to say in some other place.

[Interruption.]

Some Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

Mr Allister, you have up to four minutes in which to speak, including interventions.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

What a broad and appealing church the "Leave" campaign was.

[Laughter.]

The 23 June 2016 will go down in our wonderful history as the day that the United Kingdom shook off the shackles of the decomposing EU and began its rebirth as an independent nation, outward-looking to the rest of the world, taking our trade where the growth is, deciding to spend our own money on our own people, and deciding to control our own borders. The 23 June was the day when this country turned itself around to face in the right direction.

It is sad today that the bad losers of the "Remain" campaign could not face the future. All they could do was re-fight the battle that they have lost and try to tear down our country even more in the doing of that. The worst point of that came from the leader of the SDLP, a party that lectures us all on the purity of its commitment to democracy, but who told us today that he does not accept the result. The result is emphatically clear. The question was emphatically clear. It was not, "Does Northern Ireland want to stay in Europe?", but, "Does the United Kingdom want to stay in Europe?" Yes, it is interesting to know what the component parts of the United Kingdom thought about the question; but that is not the definitive outcome. The definitive, autonomous vote was that of the entire United Kingdom. It is that which those who refuse to accept the outcome of the referendum are rejecting — the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. They cling, in their little minds, to some little part of the United Kingdom. Some were never so attached to the entity of Northern Ireland, never so respectful of the views of the people of Northern Ireland. However, it is the people of the United Kingdom who have made this decision. We joined the EU as one nation, and we leave the EU as one nation. That is how it must be.

There are many challenges for the First Minister and many things to do, among them identifying the opportunities. We now need a programme across Departments identifying what regulations and directives imposed upon us by the dead hand of Brussels can now safely, properly and swiftly be repealed. There also needs to be a programme to identify how we will cope with new powers. Is it not ironic that some who, week in and week out, bleat for more powers for the House are now amazed and disturbed that, in consequence of leaving the EU, we will have more powers for the devolved Assembly, powers over fishing, agriculture, the environment —

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I ask the Member to conclude his remarks.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

Yes, the First Minister has a job to do, and it is to identify how we exercise these powers and make a bonfire of hideous regulations.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I call on the First Minister to respond to the debate. She has up to 30 minutes.

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do not think that I will need 30 minutes. I am responding on behalf of the Executive. This has been agreed with the deputy First Minister.

Following the outcome of the referendum, the deputy First Minister and I will act to represent the best interests of Northern Ireland. Until such times as new arrangements are negotiated and take effect, we want to make it clear that business continues as usual and that normal arrangements for the flow of goods and services and travel remain in place.

We assure citizens from other European Union countries living here that we value and recognise the contribution they make to our society; I have already indicated that in response to a question from Mr Maskey earlier today, but it is important to underline the point.

The priority of the Executive will be to ensure that Northern Ireland's interests are protected and advanced and that new opportunities are developed as part of any arrangements with the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland as well as with other European neighbours. We will seek to work with Executive colleagues to plan for the new realities and maximise the benefits to Northern Ireland of this changed situation.

The deputy First Minister and I were elected with a huge mandate to work for our people, and we remain determined to do so. We have a window of opportunity in the coming months to ensure that we do all we can to deliver the best possible outcome for all our people.

We have already spoken to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The deputy First Minister and I have also requested an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister in the coming weeks to discuss matters further. We will meet with the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, next Monday to commence discussions on the nature of our relationship going forward. Executive Ministers have been in contact with one another throughout the weekend and over the course of today, and a full meeting of the Executive will take place on Wednesday, at which the main discussion point will be how we deliver the best possible outcomes for Northern Ireland.

Sir Malcolm McKibbin, as head of the Civil Service, has also held formal discussions with his UK counterpart this afternoon, and we have asked the head of the Civil Service to establish individual departmental teams at senior level and to put in place an overarching central administrative and political governance structure, as well as formal east-west, North/South and EU liaison teams that will report directly to me and the deputy First Minister. Each Department will establish a senior team to consider the potential implication for their departmental functions, legislation and regulations, as well as identifying future challenges and opportunities. Those teams will liaise with Whitehall, Irish and EU counterparts to ensure that we get the best possible deal that we can for Northern Ireland.

For our part, as leaders of the Executive, we are agreed and determined that our specific circumstances in Northern Ireland must be accounted for in any new arrangements that are developed.

The chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland is, this week, in the United States and will establish a liaison group with the business community in Northern Ireland. In foreign direct investment, we almost exclusively target cost-centre opportunities, as we do not yet have a tax profit advantage, something that we hope to have in the future. Cost centres are mainly offshore services centres for their parent operations, and the majority of them are based in the United States of America or GB, so market access is not an issue for them.

You will know that our proposition majors on two key factors, talent and cost, and those have not changed. We expect to continue to drive forward on foreign direct investment. If you consider the list of FDI successes over the past five years — Allstate, Concentrix, Alexander Mann, Deloitte, PwC, EY, CME Group, WhiteHat Security, Capita, Cayan, Baker McKenzie, Allen and Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Teleperformance to name but a few — you find that they are all servicing either the United States of America or the United Kingdom.

Sir Malcolm McKibbin will also travel to Brussels later this week to meet our Members of the European Parliament and British, Irish and European Union representatives, as well as meeting senior Whitehall representation next week in London. Representatives from our three international offices in Brussels, Washington and Beijing will consider implications from their perspectives and provide briefings to us shortly.

We are determined to use our influence to build for the future, provide stable leadership at home and reassure those concerned that Northern Ireland will continue to be an excellent place to do business. The coming weeks and months will, I have no doubt, present many challenges both to the deputy First Minister and myself. However, we have both made it clear that, whatever the outcome of the referendum, we would work to do what was right for the people of Northern Ireland. We said that before the referendum. We told the Committee that that would be our position. Our position has not changed. We will continue to work for all the citizens of Northern Ireland and that is our clear mandate.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker 4:00 pm, 27th June 2016

I call Mr David Ford to make a winding-up speech on the debate.

Photo of David Ford David Ford Alliance

We are currently facing the biggest crisis in the United Kingdom since at least 1945. It is a political crisis, at least as far as it affects the two largest parties at Westminster; and it is an economic, financial, institutional and constitutional crisis. The decision that was taken last Thursday affects every part of the UK, and yet there are specific issues for Scotland and Northern Ireland that need to be addressed in a separate and distinctive way.

The issue highlighted just now by Mr Allister, about repealing European legislation, is one that may well come to this House. Mr Allister and his friends — well, his current friends on the DUP Benches — may find that they will have difficulty in getting a majority to repeal some aspects of European legislation that some of us would support. So it is not half as simple, or simplistic, as has been presented by some speaking in the debate.

Photo of David Ford David Ford Alliance

I will give way later. In opening the debate, Mr Nesbitt highlighted a few key points. He talked about the issue of corporation tax; and there is a fundamental issue, on the basis of what has just been said by Mrs Foster about skills and costs, whether we could now afford corporation tax, if we are not to get the benefit of having the wider EU market to companies based here.

Mr Nesbitt also talked about issues like funding from the European Union, of which there was very little talk from those in favour of "Leave". He referred to the potential consequences for the Barnett formula, with a potential change of track by the Government. He referred to the common travel area, which is a very significant issue for those of us who live in Northern Ireland, especially those who live close to the border. Those are key issues on which we await answers from those who led "Leave" nationally and locally. Mr Eastwood and Mr Murphy talked about some of the benefits: the Peace programme, INTERREG and the European social fund. Those are key issues that need to be addressed but have not been properly covered.

We had some lectures from the DUP about democracy and accepting the will of the people expressed in the referendum. I just wish that members of the DUP had accepted the views of a somewhat larger majority of the people of Northern Ireland in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement or of an appropriate majority in Belfast City Hall on how often the Union flag should fly on that building. Decisions that the DUP took led to mayhem on the streets and costs to this community of millions of pounds. Let us be clear that accepting democracy cuts both ways.

Sixty per cent of those who contributed to the debate, more or less all of this corner except Mr McCann and Mr Allister, talked about the need for stability and certainty as we go into a very difficult future. It is clear that the only bit of economics that we have seen from some people on the "Leave" campaign is their being very, very economical with the truth. As highlighted by Naomi Long, it is clear that the reference to spending £350 million a week on the NHS was a complete fabrication that they retracted last Friday. We now have the further back-pedalling that it is supposedly an aspiration. It did not look like an aspiration on the posters and the bus.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of David Ford David Ford Alliance

I think that we have had enough from your side of the House, thank you.

Some very specific issues show the inadequacy of what was said there. We have had an admission that the so-called immediate controls on immigration simply could not work if we are seeking to maintain access to the market. Funnily enough, that truth came out from some of the "Leave" campaign only last Friday. Philip Smith highlighted the work done by the governor of the Bank of England to provide stability in the financial markets, but we do not actually have a quarter of a trillion pounds every week to prop up sterling. That is the kind of issue that came up, yet when some of us talked about the dangers to finances and the UK economy, we were accused of scaremongering. We were absolutely right in what we said on that, and those who said that we were scaremongering have been proven to be absolutely wrong.

We have had a litany of "Keep calm" messages from the DUP Benches today. Frankly, Corporal Jones should have been in the Chamber. The messages were delivered with slightly greater calmness than Corporal Jones would have delivered them, but they were complete nonsense because it is clear that the "Leave" campaign nationally had no plan A if it won and the "Leave" campaign in Northern Ireland had no plan A as to what to do with it. We have had hopes, wishes and aspirations from the DUP Benches. We have had nothing of substance. I would prefer to go on the basis of what the governor of the Bank of England says about the future of the UK economy than the pious aspirations that have been expressed by those who wished to leave.

We have also had patronising references to "little people" coming from the DUP Benches. On the "Remain" side, we did not talk like that, but that is the way that they have patronised the people. I suspect that, when some of the decent people who believed the stories told by the "Leave" campaign see what it actually means, they might change things. This was not the little people. This was a fight about the future leadership of the Tory Party, with all the problems that that involves. Those who are wishing to draw a pension in the near future will have real difficulties because of economic uncertainty. They will realise that straight away. Our students studying or hoping to study on things like the ERASMUS programme across the EU will also see problems. Mr Beggs highlighted the significant drop in the exchange rate to £1 equalling €1·20.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Kennedy] in the Chair)

Steve Aiken talked about the cut in potential foreign direct investment, but, in fact, we have already seen 1,000 financial services jobs moving from London to Paris. If jobs are moving from London to Paris, who is to say that they are not going to move from Belfast to Dublin as well? It is not a cut in potential future investment; it is a loss of past investment. The First Minister has just highlighted a number of companies as successes. How much of a success will it be if those companies relocate to the EU over the next two, three or four years?

It is simply not correct to say that we are in a state of business as usual, because business is adapting a lot more quickly than the politicians who led the "Leave" campaign.

Patsy McGlone highlighted a key issue — the peace process. It is an important issue: how peace was established between France and Germany, the expansion to central and eastern Europe a decade ago and the support for our peace process. None of us on our side of the argument talked about World War III, but the "Leavers" suggested that we did and got away with another bit of misinformation.

Some have aspirations similar to the vision expounded by Eamonn McCann. Despite the challenge by Naomi Long, he gave us a wonderful socialist vision, but he told us nothing about putting that vision into practice.

I have a little recent knowledge of justice issues, and I know that we have major problems now. We will lose the European arrest warrant (EAW) and have no certainty about how we could reinstate something like that. The previous legislation in the Republic has gone and is no longer available to Northern Ireland. That is just a casual thing, because it is all about asserting our sovereignty, but, if we do not get something like the EAW back, some people will be very sore. Where are we on cooperation with Eurojust and Europol, on sharing information about justice and on asset seizures? These are all key matters that were lost by the vote last week and to which the "Leavers" gave no thought and, at this stage, have no answers.

The motion highlights a series of questions, and I will briefly put a few of them across the Departments. The Executive Office needs to give us a clear statement on the position of citizens from elsewhere in the EU working in Northern Ireland. The Department of Justice, as I said, needs to talk about issues such as shared intelligence and European arrest warrants. The Economy Department needs to talk about how we will maintain free movement of labour, particularly for those who cross the border regularly. We need to look at whether we will still get access to R&D funding under Horizon 2020 or student exchanges. The Department of Finance really needs to do detailed work on the impact of a potential reduction in corporation tax, and the Infrastructure Department needs to see what is happening to things like the York Street interchange and the A6. The Department for Communities will have a massive obligation to make up European funding for voluntary and community groups and housing associations. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs does not know what will happen after the loss of CAP funding. The Department of Health, as Paula Bradshaw said, has issues around medical research, cooperation and the massive numbers of workers in health and social care from across the EU. The Department of Education needs to provide assurances to the young people who, at this stage, are hopeful of going further in the future.

There are key issues — massive issues — that need to be addressed, but they simply have not been covered. The challenges are real, and there is no point in people behaving like ostriches. The First Minister and deputy First Minister have an obligation to represent all of Northern Ireland, including the majority of us who voted "Remain". The UK is now a very divided society. It is up to the First Minister and deputy First Minister to supply a coherent negotiating team for the benefit of all of Northern Ireland, and the First Minister must live up to the promise that she has made.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That this Assembly notes the result of the referendum on European Union membership; and calls on the Executive to set out, in the immediate future, their response to the consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. — [Mr Ford.]