We would be happy with a general election, says DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds during key Brexit debate

The DUP’s Westminster leader has said he would be “happy” to have another general election to prove the party has support in Northern Ireland for blocking the PM’s Brexit deal.

Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) reiterated his party’s opposition to the current proposals, saying in the House of Commons yesterday: “In terms of the views of the people of Northern Ireland I’m quite happy to put it to a test any time.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP

“We will happily go to the electorate and put our views to the people if needs be, and I’m quite certain we would be returned in greater numbers than today.”

The comments were in response to independent MP Lady Sylvia Hernon (North Down), who said the pro-Brexit DUP does not represent the views of the majority in Northern Ireland.

Mr Dodds added: “So I’m quite happy to take on the challenge that has been put down.”

Mr Dodds also said it is not the job of a government minister to decide what is in the national interest, as Theresa May’s administration was held in contempt of Parliament for failing to publish its full legal advice on Brexit.

The North Belfast MP was speaking during yesterday’s debate, after his party joined forces with Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP MPs to force the government to disclose the Attorney General’s advice in full.

While the DUP deputy leader praised Attorney General Geoffrey Cox for offering the “unvarnished truth” as he was grilled by MPs in the Commons on Monday, he added: “This does not fulfil the order that was passed by this House, which was for the final and full advise provided by the Attorney General to the Cabinet to be published.”

Mr Dodds told MPs: “The government may not like the fact that this was passed by this House, but it can not simply wish it otherwise.

“Surely this is one area where the government must respect the will of Parliament.”

He said that one of the arguments against publishing the full advice – that it is protected by privilege - was “bogus”.

“I have heard the argument that this is privileged, but of course in the lawyer-client relationship, privilege belongs to the client, not the person giving the advice. If the client waives that, then the lawyer is quite at liberty to disclose,” Mr Dodds said.

“It is not the duty or the job for any government minister to decide the national interest, the House has decided what it wishes to do and it is not for a government minister to override that.”

He added that parts of the legal advice had already been leaked to the media by members of the Cabinet, so therefore MPs should be entitled to see it as well.

DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson said that government had “scored an own goal” by refusing to release the legal advice.

The East Antrim MP told the Commons: “This secretive approach only confirms in people’s minds that there is something to hide.”