Nigel Dodds: DUP will never do votes deal with Scottish National Party
The DUP will not be party to any kind of coalition or formal arrangement which would involve the Scottish National Party who are out to "break up the United Kingdom", Nigel Dodds has vowed.
The deputy leader of the DUP argued such a deal would be "bad" for Northern Ireland and "bad for the UK as a whole".
Mr Dodds said it was important that the "tide of nationalism that seems to be sweeping certain parts of the country is withstood and resisted" as he told Sky News' Murnaghan programme that "first and foremost" the DUP wanted to "advance the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, all of them, and of course to strengthen the Union".
The DUP is currently the fourth largest party at Westminster and could play a key role in any negotiations in the event of a hung parliament following the May 7 general election.
Mr Dodds said: "Well, we certainly would not be party to any kind of coalition or formal arrangement even short of a coalition which would involve the SNP which are out to break up the United Kingdom, wielding enormous influence over Ed Miliband and a Labour government.
"That would be something I think that would be bad for Northern Ireland, bad for the UK as a whole, because ultimately the SNP are about breaking up the UK, not furthering the interests of the UK."
He said the DUP was offering a "reassurance" that it would promote the best interests of the UK and wanted to strengthen it "economically, socially, defence-wise and on the world stage".
"We want to strengthen the United Kingdom, not break it up, and I think that's something that both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party will be interested in having as someone who they can work alongside," he said.
Mr Dodds said he would not "negotiate publicly" what the party's position would be in the event of a hung parliament.
He said: "We will sit down with whoever is the biggest party and we will talk to them and see how far they can meet this plan for Northern Ireland, how far their objectives marry with our objectives in terms of strengthening the Union."
"That's why it's important, I think, to have a strong block of DUP MPs who can really make a real influence in terms of dealing with the threat of nationalism, strengthening the UK at home and abroad and delivering a say on the European Union, for instance, that people want throughout the UK."
Meanwhile, only three in 10 British adults outside Northern Ireland have heard of Nigel Dodds despite his potentially crucial role in determining who walks into Number 10. The poll suggested Mr Dodds was largely unknown in the rest of the UK.
Elin Twigge, deputy managing director of Political Lobbying and Media Relations, which arranged the survey, said: "It says a lot about the fractured nature of British politics at the moment that someone who is largely unknown to the British public may hold the keys to Downing Street for either David Cameron or Ed Miliband. Nigel Dodds is a name we should all get used to and fast; in less than a month he could be the most important person in Westminster."