NI Conservatives should reject talks between PM and the DUP

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Members of the Conservative party in Northern Ireland should be appalled by the negotiations between the prime minister and the DUP, and speak out publicly against it.

Firstly, a deal between the two parties will destroy our credibility as a champion of inclusive, liberal values in opposition to the extreme social conservatism of the DUP.

The prime minister has given assurances that she will use her influence to urge the DUP to modify their policies on LGBTI and other issues, but that influence is now much less given the fact that the government depends on that party for its survival.

Secondly, it will make the restoration of devolution impossible. By strengthening the DUP’s hand it will remove the need for them compromise in negotiations with the other parties in NI.

In addition, the government will lose its ability to act as an honest broker in negotiations. The election results in Northern Ireland show how deeply polarised our society has become in recent years, due in large part to the arrogance and incompetence of the DUP. This deal will only worsen the situation.

Thirdly, the election was called to strengthen the prime minister’s hand in the Brexit negotiations. The opposite has happened. The government is now weaker and in addition beholden to one of the most reactionary parties in Europe. A deal with the DUP can only weaken our hand in the negotiations and furthermore cause terrible damage to our reputation internationally.

Regrettably, the only honourable course for the prime minister is to announce her intention to resign, so that a leadership contest can take place over the summer and a new leader be installed at the party conference.

In the interim, the prime minister should commence negotiations with the EU before handing over to her successor.

The new leader should urgently address the issues which led us to this situation, and then seek a fresh mandate from the country.

The NI Conservatives have struggled to break through electorally in part because we lack a distinctive local identity.

Now is time for us to speak in a clear, independent voice.

Adam Moore, South Belfast Conservatives