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Three-quarters of Belfast Telegraph readers reject May's draft deal in snap poll

Warning to PM: DUP MP Jim Shannon
Warning to PM: DUP MP Jim Shannon
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A snap poll of more than 12,000 Belfast Telegraph readers has gone overwhelmingly against Theresa May's draft Brexit withdrawal deal.

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In total, 12,500 people responded to the question 'Do you support Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit draft agreement text' and were asked to state their reasons why.

Almost three-quarters (around 9,000) voted 'No', with around 3,500 supporting the deal (28%) on the Belfast Telegraph website's online survey.

Cynthia Cromie voted for Brexit and said the draft deal had failed to deliver.

"The people of the United Kingdom voted to get out of the EU and that includes Northern Ireland, as we are part of the United Kingdom," she said.

"Now it looks as if we will be part in and part out, a real shambles. To have to pay all that money to the EU, I think it is wrong."

But Grainne Carson from the Falls Road supported the deal.

"Three of my best friends are from the Shankill, we never discuss politics," she said.

"I personally think the deal we're getting is going to be beneficial for us, especially small businesses and farming communities.

"I wouldn't put a flag before putting food on my table, it's that simple. The UK Government don't see 'Northern Ireland' as anything but a money-draining problem (and) the DUP have brought that to light on a massive platform."

Peter Owens accused the Prime Minister of moving the goalposts. "The vote was Leave or Remain, I don't remember being offered a third choice on my ballot paper asking was it OK to remain under EU regulations if I voted to leave," he said.

John Johnston likened the deal to "paying for a divorce and still being married".

"She appears to have agreed to leave us still tied but costing us a clean fortune," he said.

Billy Smith said the deal would tie the UK to the customs union as long as the EU sees fit, as well as giving it control over the departure process.

"The UK will not be able to make trade deals with non-EU countries for the foreseeable future and we pay for the privilege," he said.

Valerie Leonard said with little chance of the UK staying in the EU, it was a "win-win" situation for the island of Ireland "with no threat to British or Irish living here".

She added: "Brexit did not articulate exactly what people were voting for or against in the first instance and that is the main reason for the current situation.

"Had people been given correct educated information on economics, trade and immigration, I believe people would have not voted to Leave at all."

Mandy Gordon said Brexit had so sharply divided opinions that Mrs May was facing an "impossible task". "You can never please all of the people all of the time," she said.

Sarah Louise said that after two years of protracted negotiations "this is the best we will get".

"It is better than nothing. Northern Ireland did after all vote to Remain," she said.

The Prime Minister is due today to meet local business leaders who have voiced support for her deal.

Hospitality Ulster, the body representing the drinks trade, conducted a poll of its members on the deal.

Out of 650 businesses, 134 responded with around three-quarters backing the deal and 47 responding 'No'.

Others supporting the Prime Minister's option included the Quarry Products Association in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Farmers' Union and Danske Bank.

DUP MP Jim Shannon, however, warned Mrs May she would receive a "rude awakening" if she didn't seek a wider range of opinion in Northern Ireland.

The withdrawal was agreed in principle by the Prime Minister and the EU last week.

It includes a £39bn divorce bill and a customs backstop that would see the UK remain in the customs union in order to prevent customs checks along the border.

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