Tom Swarbrick 4pm - 6pm
James O'Brien astonished at 'pro-Brexit PM' insinuating NI is 'privileged' because of ties to single market
28 February 2023, 14:24
'Look at what you could have won': James says PM NI speech today is 'unbelievable'
James O'Brien labels Rishi Sunak's speech in Belfast on Tuesday "unbelievable", after the PM said the amended EU deal put Northern Ireland in "the world's most exciting economic zone".
Following on from Rishi Sunak's appearance in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, James O'Brien reacted to the PM's insinuation that NI is in a "privileged" position in comparison to the rest of the UK.
After listing locations in the UK, James said: "If you live in any of those places, Rishi Sunak is treating you like a defeated contestant on the much-missed game show Bullseye.
"He's wheeled on the speedboat that has been given to the people of Northern Ireland and he has turned to you... and said, 'Have a look at what you could've won'.
"That is absolutely unbelievable... how do you process the Prime Minister sitting there and saying, 'Being in the UK and the EU, that's about as good as it could possibly get anywhere in the world'."
In a later statement from Downing Street, it was stressed that Rishi Sunak's remarks on Tuesday, stating the deal with the EU would create "the world's most exciting economic zone" should not be seen as the Prime Minister endorsing single-market benefits for the whole of the UK.
The PM's official spokesman said: "The British people made a decision in 2016 and we are seeing the benefits of that decision, whether that's in the ability to change our environmental laws, some of the tax elements the Prime Minister talked about just today, in fact.
"With regards to Northern Ireland, it is simply a fact that because of our respect for the Good Friday Agreement and its central importance; Northern Ireland's unique position means it needs to have access to both markets, not least to avoid a border on the island of Ireland, which nobody wants to see.
"That puts it in a unique position and what the framework does is finally cement those capabilities."
James expressed shock at the PM's speech: "I wasn't dreaming... but here is Rishi Sunak, this morning, six and a half years after Brexit, three years since he was campaigning on the back of Boris Johnson's deal... literally saying to everybody in the UK who's not in NI... 'Have a look at what you could've won'."