Northern Ireland news

Referendum after Brexit talks says Green Party manifesto

Green Party leader Stephen Agnew and Clare Bailey MLA
David Young

THE terms of the UK's Brexit deal with Europe should be put to a referendum once negotiations are concluded, the Green Party has said.

A public vote is one of the key proposals in the party's general election manifesto.

The Greens campaigned for a Remain vote in last year's historic referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

At the manifesto launch in Belfast on Thursday, party leader Steven Agnew said Brexit remained the "key issue" in next month's Westminster poll.

He said the option of staying in the EU "must be left on the table".

"We need a referendum on the final deal because the full facts and true understanding of Brexit was unavailable when we all participated in the June 2016 vote," he said.

"We did not know that Theresa May would pursue a hard Brexit, for example.

"And other critical Brexit details are yet to be decided – what will the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland shape up as, what trade tariffs will be imposed and how will Brexit impact the lives of our young people?

"The option to remain in the European Union must be left on the table.

"This would strengthen the hand of the UK negotiating team as well as allowing us to make an informed decision once the full facts on Brexit are available."

Mr Agnew said the Greens would also prioritise public services and pay for it with a two per cent tax rise for the top one per cent of earners.

"A future Tory government will mean further underinvestment in our public services," he said.

"Our schools and hospitals cannot cope with further financial strangulation."

He said: "We're also committed to putting people first by ensuring that equality for all citizens is pursued through Westminster.

"Progress on issues including marriage equality and reproductive rights has stalled along with our devolved institutions.

"Green Party MPs will work in Westminster to progress the issues that the two largest parties (Sinn Féin and the DUP) have failed to address through the assembly.

"We also have workers' rights threatened by our anticipated withdrawal from the EU.

"We all enjoy rights around maternity and paternity leave and holiday pay thanks to EU provisions.

"We will work in Westminster to advance and protect these important rights."

The Green Party is standing in seven constituencies in the north.

"I want to see green politicians on the green benches at Westminster," Mr Agnew said.

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