AN IRISH MEP has vowed to vote against Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the European Parliament, in a last ditched attempt to block Britain from leaving the EU.
Billy Kelleher, the Fianna Fáil MEP, has said he plans to vote against Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the European Parliament, when the Withdrawal Agreement faces its final hurdle on January 29. The Irish politicians has said he opposes the Brexit deal over fears it could erode the rights of Irish/EU citizens in Northern Ireland. In a letter to Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney, who is responsible for Brexit in the Irish government, Mr Kelleher branded the Withdrawal Agreement “vague” and outlined his opposition to the deal.
He wrote: “In all conscience, I cannot vote for an agreement that is so vague and leaves it open for a dilution of citizens’ rights into the future.
“EU citizens in Northern Ireland need clarity and confirmation that their futures are protected and that they cannot be used as future bargaining chips.”
The Ireland South MEP asked Mr Coveney to raise the issue to EU chiefs, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Mr Kelleher told The Irish Times that he had also raised his concerns in letters to the UK Prime Minister and the European Commission.
The Irish MEP said: “If you don’t raise these issues in advance, well then there is no point in I saying afterwards that maybe I should have done something differently.”
The European Parliament is due to vote on the Brexit deal on January 29th, the last legal hurdle before Britain officially leaves the European Union.
In the letter, Mr Kelleher said his greatest concern about Mr Johnson’s Bill was for the welfare of the “hundreds of thousands” of EU citizens living in Northern Ireland.
He said: “When Brexit does happen, there will be more EU citizens in Northern Ireland than there are in some member states such as Luxembourg or Malta.
“These Irish/EU citizens have done nothing to deserve this.
“They have consistently voted remain in the referendum and general elections since 2016.
“They were born here and this is their home.
“They supported the Good Friday Agreement on the assumption of continued EU membership.”
He is concerned Brexit will diminish the free movement between the North and South, something that was guaranteed in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Under the Agreement, Northern Ireland citizens have the birthright to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both.
But the UK Government have insisted that the Brexit deal does not breach the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Meanwhile the Brexit Bill is currently passing its way through the UK Parliament, and is currently being debated by the House of Lords.
The Bill is expected to pass through the upper chamber later this week, after MPs voted to back the deal by 330 votes to 231.
If the Lords decide to make and changes to the Bill, it will be sent back to the Commons to agree.
MPs may decide to accept the changes, or reject it – in which case it will be sent back to the Lords.
This process is known as “ping pong”, where the Bill is sent back and forth between the two chambers.