Sinn Féin rejects suggestion MPs could influence Brexit by taking Westminster seats
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Sinn Féin rejects suggestion MPs could influence Brexit by taking Westminster seats

SINN FÉIN leader Mary Lou McDonald has rejected the idea that her party’s MPs could take their Westminster seats to influence Brexit.

Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin had ‘no business’ at Westminster.

She also dismissed the suggestion that Sinn Féin’s seven MPs could have any meaningful impact even if they did end their abstentionism.

The party has previously been critical of the DUP’s support for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Bill, while several recent amendments to the Prime Minister’s agreement passed or failed by narrow margins.

These included Tory MP Graham Brady’s amendment to seek ‘alternative arrangements’ to the backstop, which passed, and others that would have given MPs more time to conclude a deal, which failed.

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Scottish experience

However seven votes would not have affected the outcome of the results, as Ms McDonald dismissed Mr Marr’s suggestion that Sinn Féin could have ‘a huge influence’ on Brexit.

“I don’t accept your premise that we would have an influential effect. Seven votes, I don’t believe, would have that effect,” she told the host.

She added: “I look at the experience of our Scottish colleagues at Westminster.

“There’s 30-odd Members of Parliament from Scotland and I think they would readily attest to the fact that Westminster has no interest really in Scotland either, by my observation.

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“Westminster has never served Irish interests – it’s not constituted or designed to do that.

“Irish interests are defended in Dublin and Belfast and have been – and will be – defended by our partners in the European Union.”

'No business interfering'

As Sinn Féin MPs are elected on a platform of abstentionism, the party believes taking their seats at Westminster would be a betrayal of those who voted for them.

However Ms McDonald also said the party had no place in Westminster.

“In any event we have no business in your parliament,” she said.

“The parliament at Westminster correctly advances and protects what it regards to be British interests – that’s the function of your parliament, we have no business interfering in that.

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“I am Irish, we have not just one parliament we actually have two parliaments on this island and our job is to advance and protect Irish interests.”