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DUP’s Westminster Leader: Ready to Deliver Brexit and Strengthen ‘Our Precious Union’

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds addresses the Democratic Unionist Party Spring Conference on March 28, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Charles McQuillan/Getty

The Democratic Unionist Party’s leader in Westminster, Nigel Dodds, has said their ‘confidence and supply’ deal with Theresa May is not a bribe, and will strengthen the whole country.

The Northern Irish politician said his party would embrace its opportunity to make “an unexpected and unprecedented contribution to the next chapter of our precious Union” in an article for The Telegraph newspaper.

“The responsibility is not one we take lightly,” he wrote. “The DUP has approached [its role] with a commitment to do what is in the national interest and to deliver for all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.”

In particular, Dodds stressed the importance of “delivering the people’s decision to leave the EU, and fully utilising new powers for the betterment of people across the UK.”

With many opposition politicians and Tory rebels hoping to take advantage of Mrs. May’s reduced majority to stop Brexit, he also warned that “any attempt to subvert the referendum result would be catastrophic.”

Dodds was keen to highlight the emphasis the DUP will be placing on national security during the parliamentary session, given Ulster’s own troubled history.

“The terrible terrorist attacks during the election campaign demonstrate the threats to our nation’s security,” he said.

“This is why it was right to place the security of our people at the centre of our agreement with the Conservatives. There is no greater responsibility of government than the protection of the lives of its citizens and the defence of the nation itself.”

Dodds also emphasised his party’s commitment to doing right by Britain’s armed forces, writing that, “If our servicemen and women are asked to go into battle, they must know that our nation will keep its covenant with them in full and in every part of the United Kingdom.”

With respect to the extra funding the DUP has secured for Northern Ireland – decried as a “bribe” or a “bung” by left wing politicians and commentators who are otherwise strongly in favour of increased public spending – Dodds said he “recognised that Northern Ireland is over-dependent on the public sector”, and stated his desire to “grow the private sector, rebalance the economy and reduce our dependence upon the Block Grant.”.

He said that to do so, however, Northern Ireland requires investment, given its particular history.

“Besides the human toll of the Troubles, when over 3,600 lives were needlessly lost, another cost was limited investment in roads, schools, hospitals and utilities over decades,” he pointed out.

“Ultimately, growing the economy in Northern Ireland and ensuring that young people have access to good jobs is the best way to cement the peace which has been hard fought for and painstakingly delivered. The DUP is determined to build a shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Dodds has been fiercely critical of figures in the Labour Party who expressing “faux outrage” at their arrangements with the Tory Party, pointing out that Labour sought deals with the DUP in 2010 and 2015 themselves, and accusing them of “hypocrisy of the highest order”.

He has also indicated the DUP was previously approached by the Scottish National Party, and suggested that they might consider releasing their past correspondence from their left liberal critics if attacks continue at their current pitch.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

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