Northern Ireland

Brexit: DUP says no-deal vote designed to weaken next PM

Jeffrey Donaldson
Image caption Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said no negotiator should take a no-deal scenario off the table

The DUP has said a vote by MPs to make it harder for Parliament to be suspended in order to force through a no-deal Brexit was "designed to weaken the hand" of the next prime minister.

A majority of 41 approved an amendment that blocks suspension between 9 October and 18 December, unless a Northern Ireland executive is formed.

The DUP's 10 MPs voted against it.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said no negotiator should take a no-deal scenario off the table.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be the next prime minister, has not ruled out suspending Parliament in order for the UK to leave the EU by the current 31 October deadline.

His rival Jeremy Hunt has ruled it out.

But Sir Jeffrey told BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme: "I don't believe a future PM intends to prorogue Parliament."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson has not ruled out suspending Parliament in order for the UK to leave the EU

He said the amendment put forward on Thursday was "designed to take no-deal off the table [in order] to weaken the hand of the prime minister, because those MPs don't support Brexit".

Independent unionist MP Lady Hermon voted in favour of the move, along with 17 Conservative rebels.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley abstained.

On Thursday, MPs also voted in favour of amendments to introduce same-sex marriage and liberalise abortion unless devolution is restored by October.

It is part of a wider piece of legislation that delays a fresh Stormont election and keeps public services running in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Bill has been going through Parliament on a fast-tracked basis, and needs to be approved before Parliament rises for recess on 25 July.

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