Majority of Northern Ireland MPs will not back Brexit trade deal

Most of Northern Ireland’s 18 MPs are not expected to back the Brexit trade deal.

The DUP said its eight MPs will vote against the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU in the House of Commons when it is recalled on Wednesday.

An SDLP spokesman confirmed to PA that its two MPs will also vote against the deal, while the Alliance Party’s sole MP, Stephen Farry, said he will not vote for the deal.

The region’s remaining seven seats are held by Sinn Fein representatives who have historically never taken their places in the House of Commons.

In a statement, the DUP said its MPs will vote against the deal “as a point of principle”, and “not because we supported a no-deal option”.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: “Whilst recognising this agreement brings about tariff and quota-free trade between the UK and the EU and thus reducing the impact on the GB to NI trade flows, we still have many negative issues arising from the Protocol.

“On that basis we will vote against this agreement. We will continue to work to mitigate the worst excesses of the separate Northern Ireland arrangements whilst exploring new opportunities for Northern Ireland.

“Our challenge going forward will be to press the Government to get a better outcome in those areas where more work is needed.

“These arrangements flowing from the protocol are of course temporary, in that the Northern Ireland Assembly will have the opportunity to revisit the protocol and vote upon it in four years’ time.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin visits Northern Ireland
Taoiseach Micheal Martin visits Northern Ireland

Mr Farry said he will discuss the vote with other opposition parties, but confirmed he will not back it.

“This is a hard version of Brexit, and this is going to have massive consequences for Northern Ireland in terms of loss of opportunities and loss of benefits that we currently have,” he told the BBC.

“I’m not going to give legitimacy to what is in effect a hard Brexit, a Tory Brexit.

“At this stage I am going to talk over with other opposition parties to see exactly what is the best approach to take through legislation that we haven’t yet seen.”