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Long challenges ‘morally bankrupt’ UK Government to call election

Alliance leader Naomi Long has challenged the “morally bankrupt” UK Government to call a general election.

She criticised the Conservative administration at Westminster of having “fanned the flames of division consistently, persistently and deliberately over 14 years”.

In her speech to the Alliance Party conference at the Stormont Hotel in east Belfast, Ms Long also talked of “significant opportunities” to build their representation from one MP – Stephen Farry in North Down – to chances of gains in East Belfast, Lagan Valley and South Belfast.

“And that’s not just my opinion – the pleas from the DUP Deputy Leader only yesterday for unionist unity to stave off Alliance growth and the increasingly desperate swipes at Alliance from the SDLP since Kate (Nicholl) declared her candidacy are evidence that they believe we can win those seats, too,” she said.

Northern Ireland Assembly talks
Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry (PA)

Addressing the wider political landscape, Ms Long told her party conference: “It seems that we have moved rapidly from the post-truth era of politics, ushered in by the likes of (Donald) Trump and (Boris) Johnson, to a post-shame era, where people are willing to scrape any barrel for votes and without the slightest concern for the harm that they do either to the very fabric of our society or to the individuals caught up in the wake of their vile rhetoric, and left to bear the consequences.

“This is a Government that has nothing left to offer but tax cuts for the rich and misery for the rest.

“When a party has fanned the flames of division consistently, persistently and deliberately over 14 years, in policy, legislation, and rhetoric; vilifying and dehumanising refugees and asylum seekers whether on planes to Rwanda or small boats in the Channel; tolerating and amplifying casual racism and xenophobia for votes; fuelling phoney culture wars and exploiting rather than assuaging fear, platitudes at a podium cannot extinguish the fire.

“The only thing this morally bankrupt Government can do to protect democracy now is to call a general election. And the sooner the better, because we are ready.”