Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, attended a meeting with Tories in London and told those in attendance that the “protection and promotion of the Union” is more important than any other political cause.
In contrast, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the UK risked “unravelling” because of Brexit and the “narrow nationalism” of the Conservative and SNP governments at an event at Westminster Cathedral Hall. The event was organised by the Fabian Society and Hope Not Hate.
Protecting The Union
During the meeting, Mrs Foster said:
“As leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, I have made clear that the protection and promotion of the Union of the United Kingdom is more important than any other political aspiration or cause which we may be focused on at a particular time.
“I would not put forward any cause which I believed would result in a weakening of the Union, but we must always be cautious of how we move forward.”
She also warned of any temptation to pit one region of the UK against the other:
“Whether you are from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland we must make the case to remain together, for each of us would be the poorer were any one part of the Union to leave it.”
Labour Called Out
Jim Allister, leader of the TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) also responded to Gordon Brown’s warning by highlighting how damaging the Labour Party was during the 1990’s.
“They fed the demands for Scottish independence by setting up the Scottish Parliament.”
“They set Northern Ireland on the road to Irish unification with the Belfast Agreement which only ever allows the people to be asked by way of referendum if they are now ready to leave the UK and once the question is put once it is repeated every seven years.
“The decisions of Labour when in power 20 years ago have done far more to feed separatism than Brexit so Mr Brown would do well to reflect on the legacy of his own government.
Brexit And The EU
In response to Gordon Brown’s comments, Robin Swann – The Ulster Unionist Party leader said: some of “the worst excesses of nationalism” had been awakened since Brexit.
He also went on to say:
“Unfortunately we are all too aware that there are some elements of ideologically-driven Brexiteers who would be willing to jettison Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom to achieve that ideologically pure Brexit.”
“On the other side, there are those within the EU who are intent on making the UK pay the ransom of Northern Ireland’s place within the UK because the people dared to express their democratic will to leave the EU.”
The future of Northern Ireland is confusing, compounded by the European Union’s insistence on having an Irish backstop which could trap the UK in an EU Customs Union.
The debate continues….