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Alliance resist pressure to join anti-Brexit electoral pact

Alliance party leader Naomi Long, and deputy leader Stephen Farry, have both ruled out an "anti-Brexit" electoral pact. Picture by Mal McCann

ALLIANCE has again ruled out the prospect joining with other pro-remain parties to form an electoral pact ahead of June's Westminster election.

While the UUP and DUP are expected to agree a pact to maximise the unionist vote, Alliance has dismissed out of hand calls to join with Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Greens to stand on a pro-remain ticket.

Deputy leader Stephen Farry ruled out such a move yesterday saying that pacts "don't work" and are "fundamentally anti-democratic".

He was echoing comments by party leader Naomi Long who last week said Alliance would work with other parties on an "issue by issue basis" but would not be "entering electoral pacts with any other party".

"If people vote Alliance they will get Alliance – we believe people should decide who represents them, not have it decided for them by politicians."

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said yesterday that he regretted that "Naomi has described the pact as she has".

His comments came as SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he was in favour of withdrawing his party's contender from East Belfast, along with Sinn Féin and the Greens to give Naomi Long a clear run in the June 8 Westminster poll.

Sinn Féin said last week that it was interested in forming a "progressive alliance" to fight against a hard Brexit.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew meanwhile said his party's ruling Executive had met on Saturday and agreed to "seek to meet with other parties early next week to discuss matters".

Mr Agnew, who last week indicated he was willing to join a coalition to fight Theresa May's plans for Brexit, told The Irish News he intended to hold further talks this week with all parties who were pro-remain including Alliance and the Ulster Unionists.

The Green leader said he felt that any pact must go "beyond the boundaries of nationalism and unionism".

He said: "I think it is regrettable that in Northern Ireland that the media are unable to see things other than through the prism of unionism or nationalism.

"For a pact to go ahead it is essential that it goes beyond the boundaries of nationalism and unionism."

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