Boris Johnson accused by Unionists of leading ‘an English nationalist party’ over lack of action on Northern Ireland
The Prime Minister has been accused by Unionists in the House of Commons of leading an “English nationalist party” over a lack of action to keep the United Kingdom together.
The accusation arose due to Boris Johnson’s silence on the issue of the breakdown of the Northern Ireland executive, which the Prime Minister is yet to formally address.
Last week the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Paul Givan, resigned as part of DUP protests against the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed with the EU as part of Brexit.
Speaking in the House of Commons, DUP Ian Paisley said that Boris Johnson’s silence suggested that he did not care bout issues outside of England.
“I think it’s very obvious to some people that there is a fear that the Conservative and Unionist Party, which governs this nation, is actually a nationalist party, an English nationalist party, that is not concerned about a border in the Irish Sea, but is concerned about a red wall on the mainland island, and that’s what eats them up every single day,” he said.
“If that is their only concern then that Government is betraying the union and the unionist people, and that’s the reality of where we are this evening.”
He added: “I think there is truth to the point tonight that four days into a crisis, almost five days, the Prime Minister of this nation has not spoken. I think that’s wrong.
“I think the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom ought to have spoken on Thursday evening on this issue. I think he should not have shut up about it until the issue is resolved. I think they are his responsibilities.”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Sir Edward Leigh, responded to say that Ian Paisley was “aiming his artillery at the wrong enemy”.
“The truth is that this protocol and trade across Northern Ireland are no threat whatsoever to the integrity of the single market,” he said. “This Government have done their level best to try to get trade flowing completely freely; it is the EU that is making it so impossible.”
Ian Paisley however responded that he would not take “lectures” from the UK Government.
“The only reason that GB has Brexit is the support that the Unionist people of Northern Ireland gave to the right honourable Gentleman’s party. Let us make no mistake about that.
“The reality is that, if the Government had given a fair deal to all the people of the United Kingdom, we would not be debating this issue this evening and the institutions of Northern Ireland would not be teetering on the brink of collapse.
“I fear that, alarming as the situation is in Northern Ireland, this will not be easily brought back together. The comment made by the right honourable Gentleman, who is a close friend of mine, betrays a lack of understanding of how deep the hurt and the cut is in Northern Ireland this evening. That must be addressed urgently.”
Northern Ireland Assembly elections are due on the 5th of May.
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