Sinn Féin defends Commons absence after Johnson suspension of parliament

‘Nonsense’ to propose seven MPs should be in House ‘as impotent as the rest of MPs’, party says

Conor Murphy: ‘seven more bums’ on a bench in Westminster would not make an impact. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire

Conor Murphy: ‘seven more bums’ on a bench in Westminster would not make an impact. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire

 

Sinn Féin has condemned Boris Johnson’s perceived plan to prevent Westminster acting to limit his options on Brexit but insisted its seven MPs would not go to the House of Commons to try to thwart it.

On Wednesday Newry and Armagh Assembly member Conor Murphy said on a day when the “British government decided to ride roughshod over parliament” it was a “nonsense” to propose Sinn Féin should be sitting in the House of Commons “as impotent as the rest of the MPs”.

When it was put to him Sinn Féin’s MPs perhaps could help block this move he replied: “The government is in control of the parliamentary timetable and they have shut it down. If they have that regard for their own political institutions what regard have they got for Irish interests? Our view is that they have none.”

Mr Murphy said that “seven more bums on a bench in Westminster” would not make an impact because Mr Johnson “had closed down his own parliament in order to pursue his no-deal Brexit agenda”.

He answered a succinct “No” when asked would the seven MPs not take their seats to try to defeat Mr Johnson in a possible no-confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Mr Murphy said that the DUP by supporting Mr Johnson had got on the wrong side of the Brexit argument. “The DUP will find to their cost at some stage that they have become puppets in relation to all of this,” he said.

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He added that the DUP was “foolish” for supporting Mr Johnson’s agenda. “I think they will pay a price for that eventually, however that will come about.”

He said Mr Johnson’s move “was a very clear indication that we are heading more than likely to a no-deal Brexit”.

By treating the British political institutions “with contempt”, Mr Johnson demonstrated that Irish interests will not be protected”, he added.

Mr Murphy said Sinn Féin’s focus remained on engaging with the EU, the Irish Government and with “people in Capitol Hill in Washington” to try to ensure Irish interests are protected in relation to Brexit.

He described the British prime minister’s move as a “callous, political play which is simply about forcing through a no-deal exit and ensuring those elite in Britain around the Tory party who want the worst possible outcome in terms of Brexit have their way and that the interests of Ireland are very clearly trampled upon and disregarded in the pursuit of all of that”.

Despite Brexit Mr Murphy said there was still an “imperative” to restore the Northern Executive and Assembly because Stormont could be “another bulwark against the attempts by the British government to destroy our economy”.

He said Sinn Féin would continue to engage with any serious talks attempt to reinstate the powersharing institutions.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said the British prime minister’s tactic illustrated “the arrogance and contempt of the Tories and demonstrates Boris Johnson’s clear intent to force through a no-deal, crash-out Brexit”.

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for our interests against Tory Brexiteers and their catastrophic Brexit agenda, and we will continue to work with the EU and the Irish government to that end,” added Ms McDonald.

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