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  1. ITV Report

Local politicians react to the 'Meaningful Vote' on Brexit

Credit: ITN

The Prime Minister has suffered a huge defeat after MPs voted down her Withdrawal Agreement in the Commons.

The Government lost the vote on Tuesday 15 January by 230 votes, with 202 MPs voting in favour of Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal and 432 voting against.

Immediately following this, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the loss as a "catastrophic defeat for the government" and confirmed that he has tabled a motion of no confidence in the government.

The leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, announced that the Government will make time to debate the motion on Wednesday 16 January.

Prior to the vote on Theresa May's so-called Meaningful Vote, parliament also rejected Mr Baron's amendment, which sought to give the UK the right to terminate the Irish border backstop without the agreement of the EU, by 600 votes to 24 - a majority of 576.

A number of local politicians have issued statements and offered their thoughts, following the rejection of the Prime Minister`s Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons.

  • Democratic Unionist Party

DUP Leader Arlene Foster claimed that Parliament "acted in the best interests of the entire United Kingdom" by rejecting the Brexit deal.

She continued that she now wishes to see the Prime Minister travel to Brussels to negotiate a new deal.

Foster added, "We want an orderly exit from the European Union with a sensible deal which works for Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Speaking on UTV Live at six - prior to the vote - she confirmed that her colleagues in London would back the Conservative Government in the confidence vote scheduled to take place.

She said, "Whilst some may wish to use this defeat to boost their political ambitions, we will give the Government the space to set out a plan to secure a better deal."

  • Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has urged Irish Premier Leo Varadkar 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.

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

McDonald added, "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."

  • Ulster Unionist Party

Following the rejection of the Prime Minister`s Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons, UUP leader Robin Swann described the result as "inevitable and entirely predictable."

Swann continued, “Instead of more prevarication and reckless negotiating tactics the UK Government needs to recalibrate its negotiating position, grab this process by the scruff of the neck and seek an extension to Article 50. Then get the EU back to the negotiating table.

"The debate has clearly shown that there is no desire amongst the majority of MPs for a no deal Brexit."

The party's MEP Jim Nicholson has urged that the proposed withdrawal deal be "fixed", blasting the backstop as "clearly the problem".

"If we can fix the Withdrawal Agreement and in particular the backstop, we avoid the 'no deal' outcome which would have serious consequences for both the United Kingdom and the European Union."

  • SDLP

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has insisted that "there can be no deal without a Backstop."

The Foyle MLA added that while he remains opposed to leaving the European Union, he reiterated that if it is to go ahead "Northern Ireland must to be protected through a backstop.

"That fact remains - there is no way to avoid a hard border in Ireland if Northern Ireland leaves the Customs Union and Single Market.

He concluded, "Northern Ireland's economy and stability can't be sacrificed because politicians in London have failed to recognise the obvious."

  • Alliance

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said now is the time for a People’s Vote, after the Prime Minister suffered a major defeat on her proposed Brexit deal.

“Parliament last week rejected a no deal Brexit, recognising it would be disaster for the UK, and a catastrophe for Northern Ireland.

She continued, “Now they have rejected the Withdrawal Agreement, despite the fact any negotiated Brexit will require a Withdrawal Agreement, including an open-ended, all weather backstop.

“It is now clear the only coherent way forward is to have a People’s Vote. Democracy is an active process, and given what we now know and the ongoing deadlock, the people of UK must have the right to have their say.”

  • Green Party

The leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland has called for a fresh referendum following the defeat of Theresa May's proposed withdrawal deal.

South Belfast MLA Clare Bailey said, "Westminster and Theresa May's Government are in chaos, a People's Vote is a must.

"The option to remain must be on the table as part of a People's Vote.

"The conditions under which the UK will leave the European Union have been set out and the final say must sit with the people."

She concluded, “The Tories and Labour Party are hopelessly divided with no way forward - a People’s Vote can push through the parliamentary impasse.”

  • Traditional Unionist Voice

The leader of the TUV has said he is "delighted" with the Prime Minister's loss in the Commons.

Jim Allister said, "Mrs May's treacherous deal got its just deserts in the House of Commons. It deserved no better.

He continued, "The PM needs to now present EU the unequivocal choice of ditch the Backstop or face No Deal. No more rollover; time to make Brussels face reality."

  • People Before Profit

West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll claimed the Prime Minister has "lost all authority" after suffering the defeat in the Commons and called on Theresa May to resign.

In a statment, Carroll said, "This is the third successive vote lost by her government in a week and is completely unprecedented in modern times and symptomatic of a huge political crisis.

"For once the Tories should do the decent thing and step aside and Theresa May should resign from office."

He also expressed his support for the Labour Party's leader saying, "The Tories should be brought down as soon as possible and replaced with a Corbyn led government which can implement socialist policies for the vast majority in our society."