Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Northern Ireland parties say upcoming general election will be 'defining moment' for Brexit

Legislation for an early general election on December 12 has cleared the Commons after MPs voted in favour by 438 to 20, majority 418.

Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

Northern Ireland political parties have said the upcoming general election on December 12 will be a "defining moment" for Brexit.

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It comes as MPs voted overwhelming to hold a general election before Christmas.

Earlier the Commons voted by 315 to 295 to reject a Labour amendment for the election to be held on Monday December 9 - three days earlier than ministers wanted.

A deep divide between Northern Ireland's parties over Brexit is set to dominate the forthcoming election.

Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken MLA said it will be the "most important election" the people of the UK have ever faced.

"Boris Johnson's deal with the EU is an existential threat to the Union. It puts a border in the Irish Sea and places Northern Ireland on the window ledge of the Union," he said.

The newly installed Ulster Unionist leader said Boris Johnson's Government had "betrayed" Northern Ireland with his Brexit deal.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said the election was an opportunity to "reject the DUP" and the "destructive role" of Westminster in Northern Ireland.

“It is a welcome opportunity for the people of the north to have their say on the looming disaster of Brexit," she said. 

"It is a chance to reject the DUP and the Tories, to reject Brexit and the Westminster chaos and its destructive influence on the north of Ireland."

DUP leader Arlene Foster said it right that the people of Northern Ireland have their say through the ballot box.

"At a time of great uncertainty as to who will form the next government how Northern Ireland votes will matter as never before," she said.

"Unionists need their strongest team returned to so that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected in the next Parliament."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the Westminster election will be a "defining moment for Brexit".

“For three years, the democratic decision taken by people in Northern Ireland to reject a border on this island, to maintain the free and frictionless relationship we enjoy with Europe and to sustain our fragile peace has been wilfully ignored by successive Conservative governments and by the DUP," he said. 

"The coming election is an opportunity to reject the politics of division and deadlock and defend our interests."

Alliance leader Naomi Long MEP said: "This election will be mainly focused around Brexit and Alliance has always been clear there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit.

"Therefore it will be an opportunity for people to have their say and elect MPs who want to avoid a hard border, protect the Good Friday Agreement and attend Westminster to represent their interests."

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