Northern Ireland news

Focus returns to Westminster - and Stormont

Boris Johnson with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

THE political focus will return to both Westminster and Stormont today as MPs again cross swords over Brexit and some MLAs seek to highlight the liberalisation of abortion laws.

Boris Johnson faces another rollercoaster week in the House of Commons as he insists the UK will quit the EU in 11 days, including a showdown expected with Speaker John Bercow over whether he will hold a “meaningful vote” on his Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson abandoned plans for a vote on a special Saturday sitting of MPs after suffering an embarrassing defeat at the hands of former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin, aided by the DUP.

Labour is also planning to try to hijack the prime minister’s legislation by tabling amendments demanding a new referendum and customs union with the EU.

Amid speculation the DUP could support a ‘People’s Vote’ to stop plans to impose a ‘sea border’ as part of the new withdrawal agreement, the party’s Sammy Wilson said yesterday it “does not seek a second referendum, merely implementation of the first”.

Meanwhile, Alliance leader Naomi Long said her party will not attend today’s assembly recall to discuss abortion, branding it a “cynical political stunt”.

Unionist MLA have recalled the assembly to discuss abortion

The sitting has been called by unionist MLAs ahead of the planned decriminalisation by Westminster of abortion in Northern Ireland from tomorrow.

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill said her party will also be absent from today’s session, which she described as a “circus”, but it remained unclear whether SDLP MLAs will be present. The devolved institutions have been suspended for more than 1,000 days.

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