Westminster will never act in Irish interests: McCallion

Houses of Parliament.
Houses of Parliament.

Over the last few chaotic months at Westminster, the British parliament has been a mess of confusion, writes Sinn Fein’s Foyle MP Elisha McCallion.

We now have the bizarre situation where a British prime minister, without a mandate or a majority, has mothballed the British parliament as part of his plan to push through a no deal Brexit.

While the prorogation has hit the headlines, the reality is the British parliament has been paralysed for the last three years.

Like the British government, the British parliament has had no plan, no strategy and no clue about what it is doing.

Over the course of the Brexit debacle, Westminster has voted against a deal and voted against no deal. What it has not done is offer any solutions for the simple reasons that the solutions to the problems of Brexit will not be found there.

Amidst all the votes, amendments, party splits and prorogations, one thing has been clear; none of this is about serving the interests of the people of Ireland.

From its inception, Brexit has been about serving the narrow self interests of the English Tory elites. Its impact on Ireland, if it was ever considered, was dismissed.

The interests of the north of Ireland never feature on the political agenda at Westminster. It never has and never will act in Irish interests.

And the events of recent weeks have shown that the British parliament is powerless to change the political direction of the Tories.

In fact, nothing that has happened on the green benches of Westminster has been able to alter the course of Brexit for the benefit of Ireland.

No one should be surprised by that, however.

That is why the nationalist and republican community have rejected Westminster at the polls, realising it will never act in their interests.

Instead, they are looking towards Dublin and Europe to stand up for their rights and interests.

Sinn Féin has used our position and influence in the European Parliament to ensure that EU negotiators were mandated to negotiate a deal which would result in no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland and that the Good Friday Agreement is protected in all its parts. This resulted in the Irish backstop - the only way to prevent a hard border.

We also put continual pressure on the Irish government to stand up for Irish interests.

Sinn Féin also regularly engages with Irish America to ensure the Good Friday Agreement is protected from Brexit. A growing number of politicians in Washington are voicing their determination that there will be no post-Brexit trade deal between the US and Britain unless the Good Friday Agreement is protected.

Brexit has exposed the unrepresentative attitude of Westminster towards Ireland. Now, more and more people are seeing their future on the Ireland; in a new Ireland within the EU.

It is time the people of the north were given their say, in line with the Good Friday Agreement, in a democratic referendum on an agreed and united Ireland.