PM Faces 'Meaningful Vote' On Brexit Deal

MP's are preparing to vote on whether to back Prime Minister Theresa May's deal for the terms of departure from the European Union.

The so-called "meaningful vote" will take place later today, Tuesday 15 January, following much debate.

It comes after Mrs May yesterday urged MP's to reconsider the agreement and offered assurances over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.

Officials in Brussels published a letter earlier this week confirming that the provision would not be in place permanently after Brexit.

Mrs May also warned of "paralysis in Parliament" if her deal is rejected.

The Democratic Unionists, who prop up the Conservative government, have demanded further legal adjustments to the deal.

Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds reiterated his position last night in a post on Twitter: "Unless the Prime Minister secures changes to the backstop she will not get her Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament."

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Party Leader Robin Swann MLA said the letter of assurances from the EU doesn't go far enough.

"It is difficult to go forward in good faith when such assurances are not necessarily in the gift of those offering them at this time," the MLA for north Antrim said.
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"The only document that will stand the test of time is the legal text within the Withdrawal Agreement. While some of the assurances may be a step in the right direction in acknowledging the problems thrown up by the backstop, without legal standing they are not worth the paper they are written on."

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, however, hit out at the "reckless and irresponsible" position of the DUP and highlighted the EU backstop as a necessary precautionary measure which can not be set aside.

"Whatever transpires at Westminster it is essential that Irish interests are protected; that the economy is protected and that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in all its parts," Mrs McDonald said at Stormont on Monday 14 January.

"We have commitments from our partners at an EU level that the needs of this island north and south have been recognised and will be protected. 

"Sinn Fein expects those commitments to be honoured and that is what we have been making clear to the Irish government and the EU. 

"There is no such thing as a good Brexit but the backstop is the bottom line. Anyone who imagines that can be unpicked or diluted or set aside isn't dealing with the political realities. 

"I would urge all political leaders to act in the interests of workers, of communities, of society and political stability. 

"The basic protections agreed for Ireland are not to be reopened or renegotiated and neither the people of Ireland or our agreements can become collateral damage in a disastrous Brexit."  


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