Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland parties react to December election vote

Palace of Westminster Image copyright ISABEL INFANTES/afp

Northern Ireland's political parties have begun to set out their election stalls as MPs give the green light for a pre-Christmas poll.

The DUP's 10 MPs were among the 438 who voted to approve legislation on Tuesday night paving the way for a 12 December election.

The bill is still to be approved by the Lords, but could become law by the end of the week.

If that happens, there will be a five-week campaign up to polling day.

DUP leader Arlene Foster:

"The DUP will use this opportunity to campaign strongly to send a message that Northern Ireland is better in the union of the United Kingdom and we cannot be separated economically from Great Britain.

"We have a record of speaking up for Northern Ireland in Westminster and delivering for everyone in Northern Ireland.

"At a time of great uncertainty as to who will form the next government, how Northern Ireland votes will matter as never before.

"Unionists need their strongest team returned to so that Northern Ireland's interests are protected in the next Parliament."

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill:

"This election is about our future.

"It is a welcome opportunity for the people of the north to have their say on the looming disaster of Brexit. 

"Westminster is in chaos. It has no answers and no solutions.

"The Brexit debacle has shown that Westminster cannot, has not and will never act in the interests of the people of the north." 

Ulster Unionist leader-elect Steve Aiken:

"This is the most important election the people of the United Kingdom have ever faced.

"Boris Johnson's deal with the EU is an existential threat to the union.

"It puts a border in the Irish Sea and places Northern Ireland on the window ledge of the union.

"This election will be an opportunity to send Ulster Unionist MPs to Westminster who will not be patsies to a Tory government or ever agree to a border down the Irish Sea."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood:

"This island's destiny is being decided at Westminster.

"Like it or not, the only way to prevent the kind of outcome that would devastate our communities is to show up and vote it down.

"Our MPs have, with the exception of Sylvia Hermon, either facilitated this disaster or stood outside on the lawn shouting in.

"They have failed to defend our interests. It's time to give the electorate a chance to cast their verdict on that failure." 

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long:

"This election will be mainly focused around Brexit and Alliance has always been clear there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit.

"Therefore it will be an opportunity for people to have their say and elect MPs who want to avoid a hard border, protect the Good Friday Agreement and attend Westminster to represent their interests.

"We are uniquely placed to do that, as the Alliance surge seen in May's local government and European Elections showed the party could reach across all sections of our community and gain support from everywhere."

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