DUP leader hits out at unionists who 'relish the opportunity' to reduce number of pro-union MPs

-Credit: (Image: Presseye)
-Credit: (Image: Presseye)


DUP leader Gavin Robinson has hit out at other unionist parties who he has accused to "relishing the opportunity" to reduce the number of pro-Union MPs at Westminster in the upcoming election by splitting the unionist vote.

Mr Robinson accused other parties of putting "self-interest above the wider interest" by running candidates in marginal constituencies where DUP MPs could be set to lose their seats.

Speaking in Derry where he was supporting candidates nominating in East Londonderry, Foyle, West Tyrone and Mid Ulster he said that other unionist parties standing in marginal constituencies was "disappointing".

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"Having MPs who take their seats in the House of Commons matters, but so too does having Members of Parliament who will put their voice and their votes behind efforts to maintain and strengthen our United Kingdom. That desire to maximise pro-Union representation isn’t unique to Northern Ireland, but with continued attempts to break up the United Kingdom across different regions, it is a feature of politics elsewhere too," he said.

"The DUP took action unilaterally to maximise the chances of returning pro-Union MPs in North Down and Fermanagh and South Tyrone after this election. We haven’t just talked about unionist co-operation but took action. However, there are constituencies across Northern Ireland where seats could be lost because parties will put self-interest above the wider interest.

"We witnessed the impact of vote shredding at the least Assembly election, even in an STV election where votes can transfer between candidates. The multiplicity of unionist candidates led directly to reduced unionist representation both in the Assembly chamber and around the Executive table."

Mr Robinson said voters "will not strengthen the Union" if their vote leads to pro-Union representation at Westminster being reduced.

"There is no ideological purity which overrides representation in our national Parliament, particularly if those votes were to allow further absentee MPs and the Northern Ireland benches empty in Westminster," he added.

"It is disappointing that some in other parties have not just recognised the possibility of pro-Union representation being reduced, but appear to relish the opportunity. I have no doubt however that as people approach the ballot box they will do so mindful that their vote matters and can have significant consequences for the future of Northern Ireland.”

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