Belfast Telegraph

Lady Hermon secures Government support for declaration on Northern Ireland status

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Northern Ireland Independent unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon has said she has secured Government support for a political declaration on Northern Ireland's status as part of the United Kingdom.

Lady Hermon, Northern Ireland's only sitting MP who is not a member of the DUP, met with Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday night.

Ahead of the meeting the North Down MP said she required "personal assurances" before committing her support to the draft withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK.

Lady Hermon told the Belfast Telegraph her meeting with the Prime Minister had been "constructive and at all times amicable".

"During that meeting I raised a number of issues with her and it was agreed No 10 would let me have written clarification on those points," she said.

"In addition, since the constitutional guarantee for Northern Ireland and the consent principle of the Belfast Agreement are already written into the withdrawal agreement I suggested it would be helpful to repeat those in a separate political declaration."

The principal of consent included in the the Good Friday Agreement refers to the clause for self-determination, and that Northern Ireland should remain British - or become part of a united Ireland - depending on the will of the majority of the people.

A vote on the deal agreed between the United Kingdom and the EU is expected in early December and doubts have been expressed on whether the Government will be able to secure sufficient backing for it in the House of Commons.

The DUP is staunchly opposed to the withdrawal agreement in its current form due to the Irish backstop proposal included within it.

Tensions over the deal have led to a straining of the confidence and supply agreement between the DUP and the Conservative Government.

On Monday and Tuesday nights the DUP abstained and voted against amendments to the Finance Bill put before the House of Commons.

In its agreement with Theresa May's Government the DUP agreed to give its support to votes on budgetary matters.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said the action did not mean the end of the confidence and supply agreement, but should be taken as a warning to the Government.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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