Greens rule out anti-Brexit pact

The Green Party's Steven Agnew pictured at the launch of their Assembly manifesto at the Cresent Arts Centre in Belfast. Picture Matt Bohill.  PACEMAKER BELFAST   16/02/2017
The Green Party's Steven Agnew pictured at the launch of their Assembly manifesto at the Cresent Arts Centre in Belfast. Picture Matt Bohill. PACEMAKER BELFAST 16/02/2017

The Green Party will not enter an anti-Brexit electoral pact ahead of the General Election in June, party leader Steven Agnew has said.

The North Down MLA said: “The Green Party will not enter into a pact for the forthcoming Westminster election.

“The decision has followed discussion amongst party members and our party Executive. We also met with the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the UUP as parties who had previously take a pro-remain stance.”

He continued: “The Green Party has a clear vision for a progressive society based on stability and sustainability. We cannot enter into a pact with parties and individual candidates that fall short of that.

“The SDLP’s choice of Alasdair McDonnell as a South Belfast candidate effectively put to an end any chance of an agreed candidate in that constituency. We believe that Clare Bailey is much better placed to unify the electorate.”

The Green MLA continued: “We also met with Sinn Fein about a pro-remain pact. However, they failed to provide any indication that they would take their Westminster seats.

“It is impossible to oppose hard Brexit at every turn without taking seats in parliament.

“We did meet with the UUP but it is clear that they have abandoned their-pro remain principles”.

Steven Agnew continued: “I requested a meeting with Alliance leader Naomi Long and she refused to engage with the Green Party on this issue. I am disappointed that Alliance chose to spurn further co-operation among pro-remain parties.

“The irony is that it was Alliance who turned this into a sectarian issue.

“My final message is to voters – we’ve been right to explore the possibility of a pro-remain pact. However it became clear that there was too much distance between the parties and too little time to bridge the gap.

“We’re committed to putting you first, to put people ahead of party politics. This means opposing Brexit, protecting our public services and opposing rampant austerity. After the election we co-operate with any party seeking to achieve these aims.”

He added: “We will announce a strong team of Green candidates in due course”.