David Trimble’s son has spoken out strongly in support of a Leave vote in next week’s EU referendum, endorsing his father’s call to leave the European Union.
Nicholas Trimble said that the issue of sovereignty is a key reason to leave, arguing that political rulers need to be accountable to the public.
The 29-year-old, who works in an accountancy role, said he believes that fears that the United Kingdom will dissolve in the event of a Leave vote are “exaggerated”.
In an interview with the News Letter last month, Lord Trimble – the key unionist architect of the peace process – dismissed as “rubbish” claims that peace in Northern Ireland could be endangered by the UK leaving the EU.
Speaking about the claims – which last week were again made by Tony Blair and John Major – Lord Trimble said: “There’s absolutely no connection between the peace process and the European Union ... I think this is just scaremongering.”
Lord Trimble has been a Conservative since 1997. But now his son – who on Tuesday was unveiled as a new Ulster Unionist councillor in Lisburn – has said that he too opposes Britain’s membership of the EU.
Nicholas Trimble, who has been co-opted as a councillor in place of Robbie Butler who was elected to Stormont in May, said: “I fully respect our party’s position on this and I think our party has adopted a very good position in that we haven’t whipped our members.
“But from personal conviction, it is a political sovereignty issue. I think that the European project is moving on towards ever-closer union and I don’t think that that’s necessarily the best path that we should be on.”
He added: “Public accountability for our elected representatives is paramount for me and Europe is governed by European commissioners who are unelected.”
When asked about fears that a Brexit could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, Mr Trimble was dismissive: “I think that’s exaggerated. Regarding the Scottish question, I don’t think there’s an appetite in Scotland for a new independence referendum and it would only happen if Westminster agreed to it.”
Mr Trimble described himself as a “moderate” unionist, saying that he held some views which would not be in keeping with those of traditional unionism, adding: “I certainly would not describe myself as hardline.”
He explained: “I’m more of the opinion that we should be focusing on the politics of policies instead of flags.”
Mr Trimble said that his politics was broadly from a centre-right perspective, “but it depends on the issue”.