13/03/2019

NI Parties Split On Brexit Way Forward

Northern Ireland's political leaders appear to be split on a way forward for Brexit, as Parliament prepares to vote on the possibility of a no-deal crash out of the EU.

Less than 24 hours after Theresa May's amended Brexit deal was rejected by the House of Commons, there have been calls for a People's Vote and extension of Article 50 from the region.

The Democratic Unionists will take part in the vote on no-deal this evening, but are yet to officially confirm their intentions.

Meanwhile, leader of the Alliance Party Naomi Long has said a People's Vote needs to be tested in Parliament as a matter of urgency.

The east Belfast MLA said no-deal should be taken off the table in the short-term, but Brexit should be reconsidered in its entirety.

"The clearest, most coherent and most democratic route through this impasse lies with a People's Vote, including both the Prime Minister's deal and the Remain option. This needs to be tested in Parliament."

Green Party leader Claire Bailey supported the position that a People's Vote remains the "only answer", as the Brexit negotiations stagger "from farce to fiasco".
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With 16 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, the south Belfast MLA said the no-deal preparations published today are "ridiculous", with the agri-food sector warning of disastrous economic impact.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Party Chief Whip, Steve Aiken, called for the extension of Article 50 to allow time for exploring alternatives which can help resolve the current Brexit chaos.  

"In the absence of any leadership or vision from HMG, the DUP or the EU, we reiterate our call for an extension of Article 50 to allow time for exploring alternatives- including, clearly, establishing a 'common goods area'- an idea that has already been accepted within today's announcement on the tariff free border. 

"Secondly, let us accept- as Parliament has overwhelmingly already done so twice- that the backstop is dead and that Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have, as we have said on numerous occasions, overplayed their hand and delivered the exact opposite of what they desired. 

"We need a new Withdrawal Agreement, and if it is to be based on 'securing' the Belfast Agreement, let us focus on going back to the factory settings of the Belfast Agreement, getting the institutions to work properly, and drop the pretence of pretending the Backstop was anything other than an attempt to impose joint authority by another name."



(JG/CM)

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