The UK House of Commons voted yesterday night in favour of rejecting a no-deal Brexit and gave the Prime Minister Theresa May a mandate to return to Brussels to re-open negotiations on the backstop that prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Commenting after the vote the Irish Greens, the Northern Irish Greens and the European Green Party made the following joint statement:

“The hard Brexiteers in the Tory Party want new trade deals where they compete by lowering labour and environmental standards.  They see the Irish backstop as an obstacle to such deregulation, which is why they want it removed.

“The EU has been willing to stretch the limits for concessions whenever possible but cannot go any further.  We have always reiterated that we believe the UK belongs at the heart of the EU.  Ultimately, this is a question of what type of global trade system we want. We are holding the line for every country in Europe and not just the Irish border counties.

“The Irish Greens, the Northern Irish Greens and the European Green Party believe we need a consensus approach to deal with all eventualities.  It is essential that we work together in a calm and logical manner that respects both EU market rules and also the unique political circumstances in Ireland.

“Tensions risk flaring up if people are kept in the dark and we urge Theresa May’s government to provide clarity as quickly as possible.  Preserving peace in Ireland in line with the Good Friday Agreement must remain a top priority and we urge negotiators to proceed with caution so as not to jeopardize this arrangement.”

Signatories include: Clare Bailey (leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland), Reinhard Bütikofer (European Green Party co-chair and Member of the European Parliament), Monica Frassoni (European Green Party co-chair), Eamon Ryan (Leader of the Irish Green Party).