Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Stephen Farry: I believe that we can find some common ground around Brexit

A new MP’s view

Stephen Farry
Stephen Farry

By Stephen Farry

The UK Parliament is a qualitatively different experience from the Assembly.

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For someone who has been an MLA for over 12 years, including a term as a Minister, and is used to Parliament Buildings, it is especially different.

There are three features that stand out.

The first is the sheer size and scale of the operation in Parliament.

The second is the degree of traditional, and sometimes archaic, ritual involved with many things.

And the third, and deepest challenge for me, is learning to find your way around. Parliament Buildings in Stormont is logically set out on a symmetrical grid, whereas the Houses of Parliament is a seemingly illogical maze of corridors and staircases, hundreds of them (or so it seems).

The first few days as an MP are dominated by a broad range of bureaucratic and administrative tasks, combined with the oath or affirmation of allegiance.

There is no time for any MP, especially those of us from Northern Ireland, to read ourselves in.

After the Queen's Speech we are straight into the vital Brexit legislation.

It does now seem inevitable the UK will see Brexit at the end of January based on the Boris Johnson deal - it is a much larger, harder version of Brexit than offered by the Theresa May Deal.

There is still a massive piece of work to do be done to try to mitigate some of the worst aspects of that for Northern Ireland.

Notwithstanding the different Remain and Leave approaches across the local parties, from initial discussions between ourselves in Alliance, the SDLP and DUP, I believe some common ground can be found and agreed representations to the UK Government made alongside some amendments being proposed.

The level of media interest in London regarding the fresh Remain perspectives coming from Northern Ireland is particularly encouraging, as is the welcome from many MPs across all parties. That said, it is hard to escape the dysfunctionality of UK politics, with populism and nationalism currently in the ascendancy in many places.

As an MP, I know there is a lot of work ahead in standing up for Northern Ireland, and for sensible and rational politics.

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