Politics

Brexit rebellion: DUP to vote AGAINST Boris trade deal over ‘detrimental aspects’

Brexit: Ian Blackford grilled over SNP's stance on trade deal

On Christmas Eve, Boris Johnson and European Commission President announced the landmark deal had been agreed following several months of tense and often bitter negotiations as both sides stood off against each other over several red lines. The House of Commons is being recalled on Wednesday to discuss agreement, with the chamber of MPs expected to pass the deal in time for the end of the transition period on December 31. The Stormont Assembly in Northern Ireland is also set to be recalled on Wednesday to discuss the Brexit trade deal.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill will write to Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey on Monday evening to the request the move.

But ahead of that the DUP, which has the most seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 27, as well as eight seats in the Commons, has already vowed to vote against the trade deal agreed by Boris Johnson with the EU.

The party said in a statement: “When Parliament is recalled on Wednesday, we will vote against this agreement.

“We will do so as a point of principle and not because we supported a no-deal option.

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“A free trade deal is better than no deal but for Northern Ireland this deal does not undo the detrimental aspects of the Protocol.

“Understandably many in Great Britain will be able to support these arrangements as applied to Great Britain but sadly for Northern Ireland we will be governed by the arrangements in the Protocol.”

DUP leader Ms Foster warned there are still “many negative issues arising from the Northern Ireland Protocol”.

She said: “Whilst recognising this agreement brings about tariff and quota-free trade between the UK and the EU and thus reducing the impact on the GB to NI trade flows, we still have many negative issues arising from the Protocol.

“On that basis we will vote against this agreement. We will continue to work to mitigate the worst excesses of the separate Northern Ireland arrangements whilst exploring new opportunities for Northern Ireland.

“Our challenge going forward will be to press the Government to get a better outcome in those areas where more work is needed.

“These arrangements flowing from the protocol are of course temporary, in that the Northern Ireland Assembly will have the opportunity to revisit the protocol and vote upon it in four years’ time.”

A spokesman for the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which holds two seats in the Commons, confirmed to the Press Association its MPs will vote against the deal, while the Alliance Party’s sole MP, Stephen Farry, said he will not vote for the trade agreement.

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Sinn Fein hold Northern Ireland’s remaining seven seats in the Commons but have historically never taken the places in Westminster.

The rebellion from Northern Ireland comes after the SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford said his party, which has 47 seats in the Commons, would vote against the “unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity” which he argued is a “very bad deal for Scotland”.

The SNP Government has claimed the Brexit deal could cost Scotland’s economy more than £9billion by 2030 compared to remaining in the EU, with the forecast 6.1 percent drop in GDP on par with losing the equivalent of £1,600 per person.

Mr Blackford raged: “Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory Brexit is an unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity, which will cause lasting damage to the economy and leave the UK much worse off at the worst possible time – during a pandemic and economic recession.

“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process and we are being forced to pay a devastating price.

“It is clear that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests, and regain the full benefits of EU membership, is to become an independent country.

“This is a very bad deal for Scotland, which will terminate our membership of the EU, rip us out of the world’s largest single market and customs union, end our freedom of movement rights, and impose mountains of red tape, added costs and barriers to trade for Scottish businesses.

“The blame lies squarely with the Tory Government.”

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