16/01/2019

NI Parties Divided On Best Way Ahead Following Meaningful Vote

Northern Ireland's political parties are divided on the best course of action following the crushing defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

Leaders of the Alliance and Green parties have demanded a People's Vote, while the Unionist representatives are urging Government to advocate for an amended divorce agreement with better terms.

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long MLA said now is the time for a People's Vote after the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected by 230 votes.

"What is surprising is the margin of the defeat suffered by the Government. However, that should not cloud the fact those who rejected the deal did so for vastly different reasons," the east Belfast MLA said.

"Alliance has always been clear there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit. The process has been defined by a flawed concept, incompatible red-lines, unrealistic expectations and imaginary solutions. Even today, 30 months on, there is still no clarity on what the UK wants in terms of Brexit.

"Parliament last week rejected a no deal Brexit, recognising it would be disaster for the UK, and a catastrophe for Northern Ireland.

"Now they have rejected the Withdrawal Agreement, despite the fact any negotiated Brexit will require a Withdrawal Agreement, including an open-ended, all weather backstop. This reality cannot be escaped or avoided. They have also comprehensively failed to offer any single alternative which commands a majority."

Mrs Long added that the only coherent way forward is to revert to democracy to unravel the ongoing deadlock.

"The people of the UK must have their right to have their say."

Green Party leader Clare Bailey MLA also spoke out in support of that course of action, commenting that the option to remain must be considered as part of any People's Vote.

"The conditions under which the UK will leave the European Union have been set out and the final say must sit with the people.

"We know that the Leave campaign broke electoral law, we know that reaping an additional £350m for the NHS was a fiction and we know that the deal on the table is opposed by MPs.
News Image
"The majority of people across Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and the polls tell us that most people would swing to remain if a vote happened tomorrow."

Clare Bailey MLA concluded: "The Tories and Labour Party are hopelessly divided and there is no consensus on a way forward, a People’s Vote can push through the parliamentary impasse."

Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionist party is urging the Conservatives to "recalibrate its negotiating position" and seek an extension to Article 50.

Party leader Robin Swann condemned the Prime Minister for attempting to manipulate the vote between "a bad deal and no deal", resulting in the inevitable rejection of the proposal.

"The debate has clearly shown that there is no desire amongst the majority of MPs for a no deal Brexit.

"The EU's claims that they want to defend the Belfast Agreement must now be backed up by actions that reflect their responsibility. The backstop needs dealt with and they know it. If they continue with their present intransigence, everyone will end up in a place where no-one wants to go.

"We want the right deal for the country, a sensible deal which creates a positive trading relationship with the EU in the future which doesn't undermine the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom or the principle of consent which is at the heart of the Belfast Agreement."

The DUP, who voted against the deal has urged Parliament to use the defeat to secure a better deal for the UK.

Their leader Arlene Foster said that the House of Commons had sent an "unmistakable message" to the Prime Minister and the European Union that the proposed divorce agreement was not acceptable.

"Mrs May will now be able to demonstrate to the Brussels' negotiators that changes are required if any deal is to command the support of Parliament.

"We will work with the Government constructively to achieve a better deal. That is our focus. Whilst some may wish to use this defeat to boost their political ambitions, we will give the Government the space to set out a plan to secure a better deal.

"Reassurances whether in the form of letters or warm words, will not be enough. The Prime Minister must now go back to the European Union and seek fundamental change to the Withdrawal Agreement.

"We want an orderly exit from the European Union with a sensible deal which works for Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

11 February 2019
Claire Hanna Resigns From SDLP Assembly Group
MLA for south Belfast Claire Hanna has resigned from the SDLP's assembly group over the party's partnership with Fianna Fáil. She has also resigned as the acting Brexit spokesperson as of today, 11 February, but will continue as an ordinary member of the SDLP and as an MLA representing her south Belfast constituents.
04 February 2019
PM To Visit NI In Hope Of Winning Brexit Support
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to visit Northern Ireland tomorrow, 05 February, in a bid to win support for her revised Brexit strategy. According to a Downing Street spokesperson, Mrs May will address business leaders in a speech centred upon the crucial Irish border issue.
19 February 2019
IntertradeIreland: Business Uncertainty Not Confined To Brexit
Firms in Northern Ireland and the Republic are starting to feel the pressure - and Brexit isn't all they're worried about, according to a cross-border trade body. The latest Business Monitor from InterTradeIreland shows that the UK's pending divorce from the EU accounts for around 44% of concerns, but a number of other factors are also at play.
13 February 2019
Political Deadlock To Blame For A5 Development Setback- SDLP
An SDLP MLA has blamed the political impasse at Stormont for the Irish Government's decision to redirect €27 million that had been earmarked for a huge cross-border road project. Ministers in the Republic had allocated the money to the long-awaited upgrade of the A5 road which connects Dublin and L'derry, in a project jointly funded by Stormont.
14 February 2019
Green Party's Mal O'Hara: Gay People Need No Cure
A Green Party representative for north Belfast has spoken out to tell so-called conversion therapists that gay people need no cure. Malachai O'Hara's message comes ahead of a film screening at Townsend Presbyterian Church on Thursday 14 February.