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Hazzard dismisses SDLP call for SF Brexit pact with Labour in Commons

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard has hit back at a SDLP suggestion a pact between his party and the Labour party could block a hard Brexit.

On Tuesday, SDLP Brexit spokeswoman Claire Hanna said that despite "the constant rhetoric from Sinn Fein and their perfectly choreographed press conferences" the party had refused "to use their power to stop Brexit".

"After months of failure from the Tories to act to protect Ireland, Sinn Fein continue to abdicate the power they have to stop a hard Brexit and a hard border in Ireland," she said.

"The truth is that Mary Lou McDonald could instruct Sinn Fein to take their seats - we’ve seen the same party U-turn many times before on their so-called red lines. And if Jeremy Corbyn is committed to stopping a hard Brexit, Sinn Fein and Labour with the stroke of a pen they could prevent a hard border and a hard Brexit by keeping us in the Single Market.

"While we all expect the pathetic meaningless mantras from the Tories - without any action from those who have power in Westminster - Sinn Fein and Labour simply prop up and protect Theresa May."

Writing on Twitter, Sinn Fein MP for South Down Chris Hazzard was responding to comments made by Mrs Hanna during an appearance on BBC Spotlight.

"SDLPs Claire Hanna on BBC Spotlight tonight acknowledged that British Labour Party was pro-BREXIT; perhaps she will now drop the ludicrous idea that SF MPs should join with them to vote around the edges of #Brexit," he wrote.

Sinn Fein won seven seats at Westminster in the 2017 General Election standing on an abstentionist platform.

Commentators, notably The Guardian's Polly Toynbee, have made calls for Sinn Fein to take up their seats to counteract the voting pact between the Conservatives and the DUP.

In a piece for The Guardian on Tuesday, Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey responded to "calls from various quarters" for Sinn Fein to take their seats in the House of Commons.

"The crucial point here is that we are not British MPs. We are Irish MPs and we believe the interests of the Irish people can only be served by democratic institutions on the island of Ireland. Sinn Fein goes to the electorate seeking a mandate for that position," he wrote.

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