Top DUP figures ‘privately hoped for pro-EU vote’

Tom Kelly

Tom Kelly

Some senior DUP figures – including Stormont ministers – privately backed a Remain vote in the EU Referendum but lacked the “courage” to publicly advocate such a stance, it has been claimed.

Businessman Tom Kelly, who chaired the Northern Ireland Stronger In campaign, told the News Letter that DUP figures who did not believe in Brexit should have come out and said so in public.

The only DUP member to break ranks and call for a Remain vote was unelected South Belfast member David Cather.

Mr Kelly said: “I was disappointed that none of the DUP people who spoke to me who said that they were pro-Remain actually had the courage of their convictions to come out and say what they were saying privately.”

Mr Kelly said that he had spoken to “some very senior people within the DUP” who shared his view, up to and including Stormont ministers.

Earlier this week, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton declined to tell the Belfast Telegraph how he had voted, but said that Brexit meant that his role had “got a lot more challenging”.

Mr Kelly also criticised Ulster Unionists who came out for Leave – despite the party advocating a Remain vote – because they “would have known one or two things about betrayal themselves – especially people around Trimble and that because they know what it’s like to get cold steel in their shoulders”.

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