Greens call for referendum on final Brexit deal

Option to remain in the EU must remain on table, says Northern Ireland leader Steven Agnew

Green Party leader in Northern Ireland Steven Agnew  said that after the negotiations are concluded it must remain possible for the UK to reverse its Brexit decision. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Green Party leader in Northern Ireland Steven Agnew said that after the negotiations are concluded it must remain possible for the UK to reverse its Brexit decision. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Green party in Northern Ireland has urged the British government to call a referendum on the final Brexit deal that British prime minister Theresa May negotiates with the European Union.

The Greens, who are standing seven candidates in the Westminster election in Northern Ireland, said an option for the UK to remain in the EU “must be left on the table” after the negotiations are concluded.

The Greens Northern leader Steven Agnew in announced the party’s manifesto in Belfast on Thursday, said that regardless of the referendum outcome Brexit was a key issue in this election.

The Green party is “proudly pro-European and part of a European wide Green movement,” he said.

“We need a referendum on the final deal because the full facts and true understanding of Brexit was unavailable when we all participated in the June 2016 vote,” he added.

“We did not know that Theresa May would pursue a hard Brexit, for example. And other critical Brexit details are yet to be decided - what will the Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic Of Ireland shape up as, what trade tariffs will be imposed and how will Brexit impact the lives of our young people?”

Mr Agnew said that after the negotiations are concluded it must remain possible for the UK to reverse its Brexit decision. “This would strengthen the hand of the UK negotiating team as well as allowing us to make an informed decision once the full facts on Brexit are available,” he said..

The North Down Assembly member also warned that a future Conservative government would mean further underinvestment in Northern Ireland public services. “Our schools and hospitals cannot cope with further financial strangulation. Accordingly, the Green party would introduce a 2 per cent tax increase on the top one per cent earners,” he said.

“We’re also committed to putting people first by ensuring that equality for all citizens is pursued through Westminster. Progress on issues including marriage equality and reproductive rights has stalled along with our devolved institutions,” he added.

He said that green party MPs would work in Westminster to progress the issues that the two largest parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, had “failed to address through the Assembly”.

“We also have workers’ rights threatened by our anticipated withdrawal from the EU. We all enjoy rights around maternity and paternity leave and holiday pay thanks to EU provisions. We will work in Westminster to advance and protect these important rights,” he said.