General election 2019: SDLP leader criticises MPs who do not take seats

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Colum Eastwood said this election “is about Sinn Féin’s empty seats and the DUP’s empty promises”

The SDLP leader has made a strong attack on MPs who refuse to take their seats saying “decisions are made by those who show up”.

Launching his party’s manifesto, Colum Eastwood said the general election would be “potentially decisive” on Brexit.

The 29-page manifesto is called “Stop Boris – Stop Brexit”.

Mr Eastwood is trying to win back Foyle from Sinn Féin, which won the seat for the first time in 2017 by 169 votes.

Without mentioning Sinn Féin by name, he said: “History doesn’t judge those who don’t turn up at defining moments – it casts a far harsher verdict.

“It simply doesn’t mention them because they make no difference.

“You only make a difference by being there. Decisions are made by those who show up.”

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The SDLP manifesto was launched at a hotel in Londonderry on Wednesday

Mr Eastwood added: “In the next two months, Westminster will decide if we are forced out of the European Union.

“In the next two months it will decide and direct our future like never before.

“Quite literally there has been no time like the present – and it has never been more important to be present.”

‘Full fat Boris’

He also paid tribute to the outgoing Independent Unionist Sylvia Hermon saying “she was our Remain voice and she will be badly missed”.

In its manifesto, the SDLP pledges to:

  • Vote to revoke Article 50 and support a People’s Vote second referendum;
  • Make radical proposals for the reform and restoration of an executive at Stormont;
  • Bring forward emergency legislation incentivising a carbon-neutral economy by 2030;
  • Fight the removal of free TV licences from over-75s;
  • Extend welfare mitigations for another four years.

In his speech, Mr Eastwood warned that if devolution is not restored, “the current semi-skimmed direct rule could be very quickly replaced by the full fat Boris Johnson version”.

He added: “This election is about Sinn Féin’s empty seats and the DUP’s empty promises.

“But it also has to be about an empty building at Stormont.”

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