Green Party NI opts out of Belfast seats to help pro-Remain parties
The Green Party NI has announced it will not stand in all four Belfast constituencies in the General Election to help other pro-Remain parties.
The move by leader Clare Bailey is the latest in a series of electoral manoeuvres by parties opposed to Brexit as they seek to maximise their efforts to unseat DUP Brexiteers.
The Greens had already withdrawn from the South Belfast contest earlier this week to endorse the SDLP’s bid to unseat the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly.
On Thursday, Ms Bailey said her party would also not nominate candidates in north, east and west Belfast.
West Belfast is considered a safe Sinn Fein seat but the north and east could be tightly fought contests.
Sinn Fein’s John Finucane is hoping to topple DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in the north of the city and Alliance leader Naomi Long is aiming to unseat the DUP’s Gavin Robinson in the east.
Ms Bailey said she was setting aside party interest to back pro-Remain counterparts.
“This election is all about returning as many pro-Remain MPs as possible,” she said. “These are extraordinary times and require an extraordinary response.
“The Green Party NI achieved our best ever vote across the city of Belfast in the local government election earlier this year. However, I’m prepared to put the need to have pro-Remain MPs returned ahead of party interest.
“The realities of the first-past-the-post system and the threat posed to our way of life by Brexit means that we must do everything possible to maximise the pro-Remain vote. People want us to act to maximise the pro-Remain voice and that’s what we’re doing right across Belfast.”
Sinn Fein and the SDLP are both stepping aside in three Northern Ireland constituencies to help efforts to unseat DUP candidates.
One of those constituencies is North Down, where both parties are set to back independent unionist and Remainer Lady Sylvia Hermon.
The strategy was thrown into uncertainty on Wednesday evening when Lady Sylvia announced she would not run for Parliament again.
As of Thursday morning, the Green Party NI had not indicated whether it would run in North Down.