Belfast Telegraph

Video: DUP's Sammy Wilson clashes with MP over Belfast Agreement interpretation

An MP told Sammy Wilson he would rather take the interpretation of the Good Friday Agreement from someone who helped write it as opposed to someone who "fought tooth and nail for it to be rejected".

SNP MP Peter Grant was speaking in the Commons during a debate ahead of the vote on the Government motion to back the PM's Brexit plan.

He referred to former Taoiseah Bertie Ahern who had appeared in front of the Brexit Committee on Wednesday.

He said: "What everyone is calling the backstop would be better described, as it was yesterday by the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, as a safety net.

"It is there to make sure that whatever else gets dropped in the chaos of Brexit, the Belfast agreement will not, in any circumstances, be allowed to fall and smash on the floor. It is not a backstop; it is a peace process guarantee.

"I defy anyone to say that they want the peace process guarantee to be time-limited, or to suggest that any party to the peace process would ever want to walk away from it unilaterally."

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson intervened: "The honorable Gentleman has cited the Belfast agreement, and has talked of its falling and smashing on the floor.

"Will he at least do us the courtesy of reading it? There is no suggestion that, deal or no deal, the institutions contained in that agreement will be broken.

"There is no suggestion that the ability of Northern Ireland citizens also to have Irish citizenship will be taken away from them. If the hon. Gentleman is going to make claims, he should at least get them right."

Mr Grant responded: "Yes, I have read the Belfast agreement, and with all due respect, if it comes to any arguments about interpretation I would sooner take the interpretation of the former Taoiseach who helped to write it than that of someone who fought tooth and nail for it to be rejected."

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