Downing Street has been forced to stress that Rishi Sunak’s hailing of Northern Ireland’s access to both EU and British markets should not be seen as an endorsement of single market benefits for the whole of the UK.
During a visit to a Coca-Cola factory in County Antrim to promote his Windsor Framework, the Prime Minister said the deal would create “the world’s most exciting economic zone”.
“If we get this right, if we get this framework implemented, if we get the Executive back up and running here, Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position – unique position in the entire world, European continent – in having privileged access, not just to the UK home market, which is enormous, but also the European Union single market.
“Nobody else has that. No-one. Only you guys: only here, and that is the prize.”
Critics online were swift to point out that the entire UK had full access to the EU’s single market before Brexit.
Peter Stefanovic tweeted: “Access to the EU single market & GB market will make Northern Ireland the “the worlds most exciting economic zone” announces Rishi Sunak proudly.
“Imagine the shock when he remembers he’s just dragged the rest of the UK out of it..”
Stella Creasy, chairwoman of the Labour Movement for Europe, said: “The Prime Minister is boasting about the benefits of the single market and customs union for businesses in Northern Ireland, whilst denying those same benefits to businesses struggling in the rest of the UK with our current economic crisis.”
The Walthamstow MP said “we do need to remind those who brag about Brexit” of the “real cost to our economy and our country it has created”.
Reaction elsewhere was pretty ferocious too.
Here’s a round-up of what people had to say:
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