Sinn Féin urges Leo Varadkar to 'stand firm' after Westminster rejects Brexit deal

Mary Lou McDonald warned the Taoiseach to `stand firm on backstop'. Picture by Hugh Russell
Rebecca Black, Press Association

Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald has urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to "stand firm" over the backstop after MPs voted down the proposed withdrawal deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans were rejected by 432 votes to 202 by the House of Commons on Tuesday night.

Amid the resulting uncertainty over how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, the Sinn Féin president pressed the taoiseach to stand firm on the backstop.

"Ireland's people, Ireland's economy and Ireland's peace process all need to be protected as we go forward now," she said.

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"The taoiseach and the tánaiste and our partners at a European level need to stand firm and not move away from or attempt to dilute the backstop.

"We need to say clearly to the British that if they wish to Brexit then that's a matter for themselves but any Brexit agreement needs to recognise, understand and protect the people, the economy and the peace process on this island."

Speaking earlier today, Mr Varadkar said he hoped MPs in the Hose of Commons would vote in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement, but emphasised "it is a matter for them".

He added: "I don't think it would be in Ireland's interest for me to be interfering in their internal politics."

Sinn Féin's deputy leader Michelle O'Neill tweeted that the "Brexit crisis has deepened further tonight".

"No deal crash out is completely reckless and not in our people's, households or businesses interests.

"Backstop is the bottom line and is not up for negotiation."

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