McDonnell says SDLP 'united' against tactical Tory election

SDLP 'tellers' Mark Durkan and Margaret Richie approach the speaker to announce the result of a vote by MPs in the House of Commons, which cleared the way for a general election on June 8.

Former SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell was among 13 MPs to vote against Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for an early election, saying the party was against an poll which was "about the Tory government having a row with Europe".

North Down independent unionist MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon also voted against the June snap election.

Party colleagues Mark Durkan and Margaret Richie acted as 'tellers' - appointed to verify the count when there is a division in the Commons - and were therefore not able to vote in the motion that passed 522 to 13.

Nine Labour MPs rebelled against their party whip, including veteran Dennis Skinner, as did two currently suspended members of the Scottish National Party.

Mr McDonnell said his party was "not afraid" of facing the electorate but were "united in their opposition" to an early election, saying they viewed the motion as "Theresa May hardening the pool in terms of Brexit".

"We are opposed to an election which is about Theresa May's row with Europe.

"We couldn't just nod the motion through and give a nod of approval to an election when we remain strongly against Brexit

"The party drove a handful of people who voted against against the motion, we gathered in another 12 people largely Labour dissenters.

"It's not that we fear an election, but we are against what is simply a tactic to a harder Brexit", he added.

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