Exclusive – 11 Years On, Tories Have Embraced Big Govt and Sold Out Northern Ireland: DUP MP

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As a party which would be naturally supportive of the Conservative Party, we welcomed David Cameron’s electoral success and the emergence of a Conservative government in 2010. Although the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had no formal links with the Conservative Party, nevertheless we supported the efforts made to undo the economic damage caused by previous Labour administrations and were particularly pleased at the commitment to a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

When that referendum was finally called we enthusiastically campaigned to leave. I believe that the delivery of that promise will be David Cameron’s lasting legacy even though he then showed that he didn’t really want such a vote and did his best to keep us shackled to the EU.

After Prime Minister Theresa May’s disastrous decision to call a general election and the loss of the Conservative majority in the House of Commons, we entered into a confidence and supply arrangement with the government which proved essential to delivering on many of its fundamental policies but put us along with the vast majority of the Conservative Party at loggerheads with the Prime Minister on the agreement she wanted to settle with the EU. We opposed her because we did not believe the Agreement would result in the United Kingdom basically remaining under Brussels control and would definitely separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the country moving the EU frontier inside the UK. Indeed in many of the vital votes during the three-year conflict in the House of Commons the ten DUP votes were crucial.

We expected Boris Johnston to fight this affront to the unity of the United Kingdom and live up to his publicly stated promise that the terms of the withdrawal agreement were so offensive that “no British Prime Minister could ever sign up to them”. Sadly as the last 16 months have shown we were badly let down and we now have an arrangement which splits up the UK, hurts Northern Ireland economically, leaves the EU foot in the door of UK economic policy-making and adds fuel to SNP demands for Scottish independence.

As I look over the past ten years I am deeply disappointed at the record of Conservative governments. Yes, they had turned round our economic fortunes before Covid struck. Yes, we have formally left the EU. Yes, they have successfully challenged the loony left of the Labour Party — but I am left wondering about what has happened to its core conservative values.

Ironically the Conservative and Unionist Party has left the British Union in the sorriest and most dangerous state of breakup it has ever faced. Northern Ireland has been sold on to the EU in order to get a quick Brexit fix. Scottish Nationalism is rampant and spurred on by the special arrangements conceded for Northern Ireland.

Although Conservatives promote individual freedom we have not seen levels of state intervention at the level now experienced since the Second World War. We have even had ministers encouraging people to spy on their neighbours and report them for minor Covid violations!

Admittedly some controls were required to deal with Covid but even though the threat has passed with cases down, hospitals no longer under pressure, and all vulnerable groups vaccinated, ministers are still reluctant to release controls, the government is planning to introduce vaccine passports, and restricting travel outside the UK. To adapt the words of Winston Churchill “a Covid curtain has fallen around the UK and we don’t know when it will be lifted”.

Worryingly this state intervention and control looks like it is going to be extended into the future. Now that this Conservative Government has become obsessed with climate change it is unashamedly imposing or considering restrictions on the way we heat our homes, the kind of cars we can drive, the amount of meat we will be able to eat, and the way we produce our energy. All these policies will cost jobs impoverish ordinary people and reduce our freedoms.

I look over a decade of Conservative governments. I was optimistic believing we were getting a government which was patriotic, loved this country, would defend it and promote economic freedom. Instead I fear for the Union and am fearful at the prospect of a state-interventionist future which will impoverish us all.

Sammy Wilson is the Democratic Unionist Party MP for East Antrim, Northern Ireland


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