We will never be neutral on the Union, says Tory Party election manifesto

Boris Johnson pledged to “get Brexit done” and re-unite the country, including standing for a proud modern unionism in Northern Ireland, as he launched the Conservative Party general election manifesto.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 11:18 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the launch of his party's general election manifesto in Telford, West Midlands. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Speaking at an event in Telford, the prime minister sought to characterise the election contest as a battle between “retrograde destructive socialism” under Labour and “sensible one nation Conservatism” under the Tories.

The manifesto also includes a section under the heading ‘Standing up for Northern Ireland’.

In it the document says that Northern Ireland “enjoys huge benefits from membership of the United Kingdom and our country is stronger and richer for Northern Ireland being part of it”.

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It reads: “That is why we will never be neutral on the Union and why we stand for a proud, confident, inclusive and modern unionism that affords equal respect to all traditions and parts of the community.”

The manifesto describes the Conservative Party commitment to “the 1998 Belfast Agreement and its successor agreements is unshakeable and we will not deviate from the principle of consent or the three-stranded approach”.

It continues: “We will continue to work with all sides to re-establish the Northern Ireland executive and assembly so that the people of Northern Ireland can enjoy the full advantages of devolved government for the benefit of the whole community.”

The manifesto lists three further points:

“Guaranteeing the full economic benefits of Brexit: Northern Ireland will enjoy the full economic benefits of Brexit including new free trade agreements with the rest of the world. We will ensure that Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK and that in the implementation of our Brexit deal, we maintain and strengthen the integrity and smooth operation of our internal market.

“Turbocharging the Northern Ireland economy: After Brexit, we will support the Northern Ireland Executive to improve infrastructure, enterprise and tourism, reduce public sector dependence and make the most of our new City Deals. We intend to devolve responsibility for corporation tax and will consider the same for short-haul Air Passenger Duty to serve our goal of making our Union more prosperous and connected than ever before.

“Security and legacy issues: Keeping people safe and secure will always be our priority. That means taking action to tackle the threat from terrorism and the scourge of paramilitarism.”

It continues: “We will also never forget the immense contribution of the police and armed forces in standing firm against terrorists in the past and the debt we owe them for peace today.

“We will continue to seek better ways of dealing with legacy issues that provide better outcomes for victims and survivors and do more to give veterans the protections they deserve.”