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Parliament has voted to send Brexit down a dead-end on backstop, says Farry

Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said Parliament has voted to send Brexit down "a dead-end" on the backstop, after MPs voted to seek alternative arrangements to try and replace it.

The proposal won by 16 votes and will now see Prime Minister Theresa May return to attempt and re-open negotiations with the EU.

"Many people will be exasperated at a dysfunctional Parliament unable to process and work through the real choices facing the UK around Brexit. Thirty-one months on from the referendum there is still no coherent way forward," said Dr Farry.

"Those opposed to a no deal and alternative softer versions of Brexit are struggling to unify around an effective pathway. While there may be a majority for the principle of a no deal, there is no agreed means to stop it. By contrast, the Prime Minister has conducted a shameful u-turn on the backstop, and abandoned the deal she made with the EU only a few weeks ago.

"Throughout the Brexit process, the Prime Minister and UK Government have been clear they would avoid a hard border in Ireland at all costs. The need for the backstop only arises from the UK's decision to leave the EU and the mutually incompatible red-lines. At no stage has the UK Government produced any viable alternative. And crucially, the Prime Minister did sign up to the backstop as part of the Withdrawal Agreement and defend its necessity. This abandonment of the backstop is an enormous act of bad faith and sends a terrible message to the people of Northern Ireland.

"However, this is a pointless victory for the Government. The EU is rightly clear the backstop and the Withdrawal Agreement are not up for renegotiation, and have indicated as such once again today. So this represents a dead-end. This amendment is therefore the ultimate unicorn, only serving to waste time and increase the risk of a catastrophic no deal crash-out.

"There are consequences to constant delay and failure to face reality, as businesses and others cannot wait for certainty, and may choose to take proactive decisions which impact on investment and jobs."