Northern Ireland has to watch from the sidelines the greatest national debate of our generation

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I’m sorry Northern Ireland has no say in the initial rounds of the leadership of the Conservative and Unionist Party and of this nation.

Northern Ireland parties have little influence in Westminster and again we in Northern Ireland watch from the sidelines with negligible contribution to national politics and the greatest national debate of our generation.

At general elections the two Unionist parties continue to act as populist nationalist parties with DUP saying they will have balance of power at Westminster which never happens and UUP similarly having little influence at Westminster and national politics. Sinn Fein don’t take their seats and SDLP and Alliance have loose, ineffective semi-detached relationships with Labour and Liberal Democrats.

It’s time for Northern Ireland participation again in national politics and the Government of UK which was so prevalent a century ago just as we participate in other aspects of national life such as –through sport, music, drama, education and the armed forces.

It is welcome to see Labour organizing here alongside NI Conservatives both of whom continue to offer pro union alternatives open to all and the possibility of real participation in national political debate.

As an individual member of the Conservative Party I do however look forward to participating in the final stage of the election of our next Prime Minister which looks like it will be between two very capable women.

Johnny Andrews, NI Conservatives