Northern Ireland news

Naomi Long apologises after wrongly challenging Colum Eastwood over Brexit campaigning

Naomi Long was forced to delete a tweet and apologise to Colum Eastwood. Picture by Mal McCann

ALLIANCE leader Naomi Long has been forced to delete a tweet and apologise to Colum Eastwood after wrongly claiming her party was registered to campaign in the 2016 EU referendum.

The East Belfast MLA and keen social media user had responded to a tweet from the SDLP leader in which he said his party was alone in the north in being "officially registered to campaign against Brexit".

Mrs Long took her SDLP counterpart to task accusing him of "not so honest politics". In the tweet that was later deleted, she said: "Alliance also officially registered and campaigned in the EU referendum for Remain."

However, it was pointed out to the Alliance leader that her party did not officially register ahead of the 2016 referendum – an assertion later confirmed by the Electoral Commission.

An Alliance spokesman said the party had approached the Electoral Commission to register but when advised that because its expenditure was unlikely to exceed £10,000, registration was not necessary. The party spokesman said that was where the "confusion arose".

"Deleted my earlier tweet and apologies to @columeastwood – the error was not his," Mrs Long later tweeted.

An SDLP spokesman welcomed the clarification from the Electoral Commission.

"It is disappointing that the leader of the Alliance Party chose to spread misinformation about this via her twitter account," the spokesman said.

"We welcome and accept Naomi Long’s apology and will continue to work with all parties interested in supporting our fight against Brexit."

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