The Conservative Party has a chance of winning MPs in Northern Ireland, the Tory chairman tells conference

The Conservative Party has its sights set on gaining MPs in Northern Ireland, one of the party’s co-chairman has suggested.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 4th October 2021, 6:05 am
Updated Monday, 4th October 2021, 6:07 am
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden at conference on Sunday, where he said: “We’re not suddenly going to sweep the board in Northern Ireland but we do have an opportunity to make some inroads". Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden at conference on Sunday, where he said: “We’re not suddenly going to sweep the board in Northern Ireland but we do have an opportunity to make some inroads". Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Oliver Dowden said there are a “couple of seats” where the party has an opportunity to “make some inroads”, before describing North Down as a “top priority” for him.

Speaking at the party’s conference in Manchester, Mr Dowden explained how Northern Ireland has not been an area where the party has had a “rich seam of support” due to the contests between the Ulster Unionist Party, SDLP, DUP and Sinn Fein.

But the Conservative MP added: “We have always had a core of Conservative support there and some strong associations, particularly in the North Down area and we’ve always looked to see if we can build some support there.

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“I think it’s quite important now that we try and combine all of our efforts across the different associations in Northern Ireland so we have a whole Northern Ireland effort rather than duplicating across different offices and so on.”

Mr Dowden went on: “We’re not suddenly going to sweep the board in Northern Ireland because of the entrenched nature of some of the politics there, but I think there’s a couple of seats where if we really get our act together we do have an opportunity to make some inroads.

“And North Down is the sort of seat we should be winning as a Conservative, it’s a sort of Conservative kind of seat so that for me would be a top priority.”

Alliance MP Stephen Farry was elected to represent North Down in December 2019 after he secured 18,358 votes.

Conservative candidate Matthew Robinson finished last after he polled 1,959 votes, behind the DUP’s Alex Easton in second and the Ulster Unionist Party’s Alan Chambers in third.

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