Sinn Fein urges Irish Premier to ‘stand firm’ after Westminster rejects deal

The Sinn Fein leader has urged Irish Premier Leo Varadkar to “stand firm” over the backstop after MPs voted down the proposed withdrawal deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were rejected by 432 votes to 202 by the House of Commons on Tuesday night.

Amid the resulting uncertainty over how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald pressed the Taoiseach to stand firm on the backstop.

“Ireland’s people, Ireland’s economy and Ireland’s peace process all need to be protected as we go forward now,” she said.

“The Taoiseach and the Tanaiste and our partners at a European level need to stand firm and not move away from or attempt to dilute the backstop.

“We need to say clearly to the British that if they wish to Brexit then that’s a matter for themselves but any Brexit agreement needs to recognise, understand and protect the people, the economy and the peace process on this island.”

Brexit
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said he hoped MPs in the Hose of Commons would vote in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement, but emphasised “it is a matter for them”.

He added: “I don’t think it would be in Ireland’s interest for me to be interfering in their internal politics.”

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