Northern Ireland

Colum Eastwood: 'Brexit can still be stopped'

Colum Eastwood and campaign bus Image copyright Liam McBurney/PA
Image caption Colum Eastwood poses in front of the 'anti-Brexit battle bus'

The SDLP's European election candidate Colum Eastwood says Brexit can be stopped.

The party leader was speaking as he launched his bid to win a seat in the European elections on 23 May.

The SDLP leader says the focus of his campaign will be to take a pro-European stance to the electorate and fight to stop the UK leaving the EU.

He told the BBC: "The main priority is to stop Brexit and I think we still can."

He added: "I think we can definitely stop a hard border on this island.

"That is what we are fighting for. That is why I am running and I think we can deliver it."

This is the first time Colum Eastwood has run for the European Parliament.

He says he wants to follow in the footsteps of John Hume who was an MEP until his retirement in 2004.

Former SDLP leader John Hume first went to the European Parliament in 1979.

Mr Eastwood said: "It is very clear we want to take John Hume's seat back because we are the most pro-European option in this election.

"We are against Brexit, we are pro-remain and we want to send two remainers back to the European Parliament."

Later this month Northern Ireland will elect three candidates to the European Parliament.

The seats are currently held by Diane Dodds of the DUP, Martina Anderson of Sinn Féin and Jim Nicholson of the UUP, who is standing down.

Colum Eastwood says voters must use the election to send out a pro-European message.

He said the EU referendum in 2016 showed how people in Northern Ireland feel and that they had "clearly stated they wanted to remain in the European Union".

"This is our people's vote," he said.

"This is our opportunity to send a clear message that we are just not having it."

The SDLP leader was speaking on the Donegal / Londonderry border surrounded by supporters where he launched his party's campaign in front of a blue 'anti-Brexit battle bus'.

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