East Londonderry DUP candidate Gregory Campbell has vowed that the DUP will negotiate “strong and hard” for Northern Ireland in the event of a hung parliament but warned that his party will not be “the Northern Ireland branch of the Conservative Party”.
Speaking at the count centre for his constituency of East Londonderry, Mr Campbell said: “If it is a hung parliament, I think for those who have chosen not to take up their seats, their voters will regret it. I don’t want to second guess and I would like to see the final tally - and if it is there is a power struggle we will want to negotiate strong and hard for Northern Ireland.”
He continued: “We will not be a Northern Ireland branch of the Conservative Party. We have voted for them when they have done the right thing and we have voted against them when they haven’t. Should it be down to one vote, that remains the case.”
His party colleague, William Hay, said Northern Ireland MPs would likely emerge in a “strong position but also a very responsible position”.
He added: “Our priority is to get the Assembly up and running. What we were getting on the doors was a very, very clear message. Get the Assembly up and running. Our priority at Westminster will be to encourage the Conservative Party to get involved in a more focused way on delivering for Northern Ireland and delivering the Assembly.”
Regarding the overall election campaign, Mr Hay said: “I think if you look at where the Conservatives started from, and where they are tonight, this has been disastrous. Our MPs will be the kingmakers, playing a huge role - I mean Northern Ireland MPs generally.”