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DUP leader Arlene Foster at the party's annual conference last weekend Michael Cooper/PA Images
To the Polls

Northern parties welcome general election as a 'chance to reject Westminster chaos'

The UK will go to the polls on 12 December.

THE DUP AND the North’s other main political parties have given a broad welcome to plans for a UK general election on 12 December.

The Bill is still to be approved by the House of Lords but could become law by the end of the week.

If it passes, it would mean the first December election in 100 years in the UK and there would be a five-week campaign by parties up to polling day.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said it is right that people in the North have their say through the ballot box.

“The DUP will use this opportunity to campaign strongly to send a message that Northern Ireland is better in the Union of the United Kingdom and we cannot be separated economically from Great Britain.

“At a time of great uncertainty as to who will form the next government, how Northern Ireland votes will matter as never before.

“Unionists need their strongest team returned so that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected in the next parliament,” she said.

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill said an election is a “chance to reject the DUP and the Tories, to reject Brexit and the Westminster chaos and its destructive influence on the north of Ireland”.

‘Window ledge of the Union’

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) said the North needs MPs “who will not be patsies” to a Conservative Party government.

UUP MLA Steve Aiken said that the North needs to elect Ulster Unionist MPs who will stand against Boris Johnson’s plans “that will destroy the Union”.

“This is the most important election the people of the United Kingdom have ever faced. Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU is an existential threat to the Union. It puts a border in the Irish Sea and places Northern Ireland on the window ledge of the Union,” he said.

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood said a December election “will be a defining moment for Brexit and every opportunity to defend the interests of people, businesses and communities in the North must be taken”.

“For three years, the democratic decision taken by people in Northern Ireland to reject a border on this island, to maintain the free and frictionless relationship we enjoy with Europe and to sustain our fragile peace has been wilfully ignored by successive Conservative governments and by the DUP,” he said.

“The coming election is an opportunity to reject the politics of division and deadlock and defend our interests.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said her party has been preparing for an election for some time and is best placed to unite people who voted Remain in the Brexit vote.

“This election will be mainly focused around Brexit and Alliance has always been clear there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit,” she said.

“Therefore, it will be an opportunity for people to have their say and elect MPs who want to avoid a hard border, protect the Good Friday Agreement and attend Westminster to represent their interests.

Long said people who vote for Alliance candidates “can increase the representation of progressive, pro-Remain MPs and articulate that voice loudly at Westminster”.

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