Northern Ireland

DUP spells out demands in event of hung parliament

Nigel Dodds
Image caption Mr Dodds made his comments in an article for The Guardian newspaper

The Democratic Unionist Party has given details on what it wants in return for supporting a government if there is a hung parliament after the general election in May.

The party's deputy leader Nigel Dodds outlined its priorities.

They include scrapping the so-called bedroom tax, commitments on defence spending and securing UK borders.

The details have been given in an article the North Belfast MP has written for the Guardian newspaper.

Mr Dodds wrote: "While we naturally will always want the economic and social interests of the people of Northern Ireland as a whole protected, politically we would not seek to exploit for narrow and selfish reasons any leverage at Westminster over devolved matters."

On defence Nigel Dodds wrote "committing to spending 2% of GDP is a bare minimum".

He also said that "to that end the next government should complete, equip, deploy and defend (not least by commissioning sufficient escorts) the two Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers as a centrepiece of keeping Britain safe and enabling us to better protect our friends and those in need of our help".

On the controversial so-called bedroom tax that Labour has pledged to scrap if it gets into power, Mr Dodds said it was "inhumane and ineffective" and the issue should be "revisited" in the next parliament.

The DUP is also keen to discuss EU matters with any potential new administration at Westminster.

'Best for country'

The North Belfast MP said any new government must "comprehensively tackle UK border integrity".

He also suggested that "free movement of labour does not have to entail free access to benefits paid for by other countries' taxpayers".

Image caption Lord Trimble said although the DUP and Conservatives shared many values that did not mean they would automatically work together if there was a hung parliament

The DUP has made it clear it will not enter any formal coalition at Westminster but says it will do what "is best for the country".

Earlier this month, in an interview for the BBC NI programme The View, a former Ulster Unionist leader said the DUP may back a Labour administration if there was a hung parliament.

Lord Trimble said that although the DUP and Conservatives shared many values, that did not mean they would automatically work together if there was a hung parliament.

Mr Dodds said in the event of a hung parliament his party would do "what is right for Northern Ireland".

He told the Guardian: "We are looking neither to exploit any position of advantage for limited party ends, nor merely present a shopping list of desirable goodies funded by a depleted and hard pressed Treasury".

Later on Thursday, Mr Dodds told the BBC's Newsnight programme that Labour leader Ed Miliband would have to offer a referendum on Europe to win DUP support for any government he may try to form after the election.

"I think an EU referendum needs to be part of what is on offer to the British people after the election, whoever is prime minister," he said.

Mr Dodds also said his party would find it "difficult" to support a government that included the SNP.

"They are fundamentally out to break the United Kingdom, break up the UK, and we are very very staunch in our belief that the union should be maintained."

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