Pro-remain argument must win this election, says Sinn Fein president

Mary Lou McDonald has urged Northern Ireland’s voters to back pro-remain candidates in the European election.

The Sinn Fein president called for her party’s candidate, Martina Anderson, to be given the number one preference, before transferring to “pro-remain, progressive candidates”.

Mrs McDonald told her party manifesto launch at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Monday that the election was a chance to unite behind a pro-remain message.

“Brexit changes everything for all of us, and it’s for that reason that we identify this as maybe a unique and unifying moment of solidarity for people who want what is best for all of us right across Ireland,” she said.

“The only thing to do is to vote for pro-remain parties and reject Brexit.

“Martina Anderson is the strongest advocate of the pro-remain position, I think it’s important that a pro-remain candidate tops the poll, but I also think it’s very important that, in the round, the pro-remain argument wins the day.

“So I would say to everybody, whether they come from unionism or from nationalism, or they are somewhere in between, think long and think hard, and be sure in this European election that we send the right, the accurate and the progressive signal to Brussels, to London, and beyond, that people here are united in a desire for progress to protect our peace process, our peace agreements, to protect our economy, our livelihoods, our agriculture, that’s what a vote for a pro-remain candidate amounts to.”

The message was in stark contrast to Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster who, at her party manifesto launch earlier, urged that Brexit be delivered, rejecting the suggestion of a second confirmatory Brexit referendum as “placing democracy at risk”.

Mrs McDonald urged caution among those calling for a second referendum, questioning whether the result would be any different.

In 2016 a majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain, while the majority across the rest of the UK voted to leave the European Union.

“People here voted to remain and yet that democratic verdict was overridden by the British Government.

“So if there is a second referendum of course we will go out and campaign again for the remain position, and I believe that would be the position of the vast majority of the people living here.

“But we need to be realistic about this, even if in that case scenario, if a different decision is taken on the neighbouring island, well then the democratic view is set aside, that’s really the crux of the problem,” she said.

“People talk about a second referendum, it might happen – just be clear that in the event that if it did happen, you can’t be sure that the result in Britain would be any different, so I think it would be a big mistake to put all of your eggs in the second referendum basket.”

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