10/12/2018

NI Divided Over Backstop As PM Delays Meaningful Vote

Northern Ireland has been left without a clear decision on the Brexit backstop as division remains between the pro-remain parties and the Democratic Unionists.

It comes as the 'meaningful vote' on Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement has been delayed, after it was scheduled to take place on Tuesday 11 December.

Mrs May has been lobbying for her deal, which includes a backstop provision for Northern Ireland, but it's decisive vote in the House of Commons has been called off due to a suspected lack of support.

It is anticipated that the Prime Minister will confirm her intentions to seek further concessions from Brussels in a bid to win over the voices of dissent in her party.

The dramatic development comes as the European Court of Justice ruled that Britain can unilaterally halt the Brexit process by revoking the Article 50 letter that declared its intention to leave the EU.

Mrs May spoke by phone to Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, whose MP's prop up the minority Conservative administration through a confidence and supply deal.
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Mrs Foster said afterwards in a post on Twitter: "My message was clear. The backstop must go. Too much time has been wasted. Need a better deal. Disappointed it has taken so long for Prime Minister to listen."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's four pro-remain parties have reiterated their position of support for the backstop.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party said in a joint statement that they recognise a pressing need for the backstop, and Theresa May's withdrawal agreement, to be banked.

"We continue to believe that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and our preference is for no Brexit at all. We recognise that the majority of people, businesses and civic society do not want Brexit either.

"We have a shared responsibility to protect jobs, economic stability, the environment and people's livelihoods.

"At the very least, this means avoiding a hard border, protecting the Good Friday Agreement and hard won peace of the past twenty years, and staying within the Single Market and a Customs Union.

"By contrast, we believe that a no deal situation would be catastrophic for our economy and society."



(JG/CM)

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