Naomi Long: Hold another referendum on Brexit

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A party leader in Northern Ireland has called for another Brexit referendum ahead of an expected run for the European Parliament.

Naomi Long said she will confirm her decision within the next two days.

She leads the centralist Alliance Party, which garners votes from both communities in Northern Ireland and has been strongly pro-Remain.

Ms Long said: “If MPs can change their minds every two or three days or every two or three minutes, I see no reason why the public cannot be afforded that opportunity every two or three years.”

Northern Ireland’s three outgoing MEPs represent the DUP, Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionists.

Political commentators suggest the third UUP seat could be in contention with the decision of veteran MEP Jim Nicholson to step aside.

Ms Long said there should be an “escape route” from the “circular debate” around Brexit.

“The only way to do that is through a people’s vote and allowing people to make an informed choice which they were not able to make in the past – not because they were foolish or stupid, but because the information was not there.”

DUP candidate Diane Dodds handed in her nomination papers in Belfast on Tuesday with a call for Prime Minister Theresa May to get on with taking the UK out of the EU.

The DUP’s opposition to the Irish backstop, the insurance policy designed to prevent a hard Irish border, is founded on concerns it could threaten the integrity of the UK.

It led the DUP’s 10 MPs to oppose the Prime Minister’s efforts to get her proposed withdrawal deal through Westminster.

Martina Anderson is Sinn Fein’s candidate.

Ms Long helped launch her party’s manifesto for local Government elections in Northern Ireland, which are also due next month.

The party is pledged to oppose Brexit at council chamber level, as well as seeking to promote openness and transparency, increase regeneration powers and work to create a shared future between unionists and nationalists.

Ms Long said the conversation on the doorsteps was dominated by Brexit.

She said: “People are frustrated that they are not getting their voices heard by any other means.”

And she added that voters were angered by the Brexit process and felt they were not being listened to.

Ms Long expressed pessimism on chances of a breakthrough by the new October deadline unless there was a major shift in people’s positions.

She spoke as Alliance local government election candidates gathered in Belfast for a manifesto launch.

Among the candidates was Vikki McAuley, with her four-month-old daughter Lilah.

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