The DUP would not be party to any kind of coalition or formal arrangement even short of a coalition which would involve the SNP who are out to “break up the United Kingdom”, Nigel Dodds has said.
The deputy leader of the DUP argued such a deal would be “bad” for Northern Ireland and “bad for the UK as a whole”.
Mr Dodds said it was important that the “tide of nationalism that seems to be sweeping certain parts of the country is withstood and resisted” as he told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme that “first and foremost” the DUP wanted to “advance the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, all of them and of course to strengthen the Union”.
The DUP are currently the fourth largest party in the Westminster Parliament and could play a key role in any negotiations in the event of a hung parliament following the May 7 General Election.
Mr Dodds said: “Well, we certainly would not be party to any kind of coalition or formal arrangement even short of a coalition which would involve the SNP which are out to break up the United Kingdom, wielding enormous influence over Ed Miliband and a Labour government.
“That would be something I think that would be bad for Northern Ireland, bad for the UK as a whole, because ultimately the SNP are about breaking up the UK, not furthering the interests of the UK.”
He said the DUP was offering a “reassurance” that it would promote the best interests of the UK and wanted to strengthen it “economically, socially, defence-wise and on the world stage”.
He went on: “Our interest in terms of the next Parliament is first of all to ensure the UK is strengthened.
“It’s important that the tide of nationalism that seems to be sweeping certain parts of the country is withstood and resisted.
“We want to strengthen the United Kingdom, not break it up and I think that’s something that both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party will be interested in having as someone who they can work alongside.”
He added that the DUP wanted to ensure strong defences for the UK, wanted to see an EU referendum, stronger border controls, the deficit dealt with in a “compassionate” way, opposing the bedroom tax.
Its Northern Ireland plan outlined a strengthening of the Union and “delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland a better future in terms of world-class public services and restoring Northern Ireland to the economic powerhouse that it once was”.
Northern Ireland had “suffered £1.5 billion in cuts” from the block grant.
Mr Dodds said he would not “negotiate publicly” what the party’s position would be in the event of a hung parliament.
He said: “We will sit down with whoever is the biggest party and we will talk to them and see how far they can meet this plan for Northern Ireland, how far their objectives marry with our objectives in terms of strengthening the Union.”
“That’s why it’s important, I think, to have a strong block of DUP MPs who can really make a real influence in terms of dealing with the threat of nationalism, strengthening the UK at home and abroad and delivering a say on the European Union, for instance, that people want throughout the UK.”