Belfast Telegraph

Another election inappropriate, says Gregory Campbell, 'but oh - wouldn't that be such an awful thing?'

Unionism needs to reflect on 'poor result', says DUP MP

By Jonny Bell

Gregory Campbell has said another election would be inappropriate, but asked if it "wouldn't be such an awful thing" to run it again?

The DUP MP said that the election result had galvanised the unionist electorate and that Sinn Fein and nationalism would have to live with that for future polls.

As the parties begin talks on restoring power sharing, Mr Campbell said it was unlikely the outstanding issues would be resolved within the three-week time period set out in law to re-establish an Executive.

"But let's get started," he told the BBC Stephen Nolan show.

Should the parties not reach an agreement in the coming weeks, Secretary of State James Brokenshire must call another election. Although it is widely thought he would move to suspend the institutions and implement a period of direct rule.

"Sinn Fein had a successful election, just as we had. But unionism had a very poor result," said Mr Campbell.

"Sinn Fein did not perceive an outcome that they may well galvanise the unionist community, which we predicted and others rode off. If that is the case they will have to live with that in future elections."

Asked if there should be another election, he added: "Oh, now wouldn't that be an awful thing?

"Maybe some people who thought they had unionism behind the eight ball would not want that.

"We said about this election that it was unnecessary, so why would we say another one in four weeks' time was essential?

"The last election wasn't required and the next one won't be either.

"And if another election was to run you know what would happen then? People would say 'they didn't like the outcome the last time and they are trying to re-write the election result."

He added: "I don't think another election would be appropriate, in terms of getting government back in place, it would not solve anything.

"We heard Gerry Adams say about the massive change this result meant and that it ensured the unionist majority had been finished. There hasn't been unionist majority rule in Northern Ireland in 40 years. Not since 1972.

"I am not worried about where unionism is at, but concerned that divided unionism resulted in the Friday result.

"A united unionism would see seats, taken by the SDLP and Sinn Fein, come back into unionist hands.

"The unionist community and unionist parties have a responsibility in my view - this is not a proposal just a natural outcome of Friday's result - we have responsibility to look at that and see where it takes us all."


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Responding to the Belfast Telegraph story reporting disquiet among the DUP ranks, Mr Campbell said he was not aware of any revolt against the leader

He said Arlene Foster was "definitely not stepping aside".

"I don't know of discontent, never mind a growing discontent," he said.

"If you have a leader who brings you through an election and your vote goes up in every constituency, why on earth would there be growing discontent?

"And the fact the vote of your opponents declines. All the other smaller unionist parties vote share declined.

"We need to get a government which most people across the divide want to see and the best way to do that is by not setting pre-conditions ahead of any talks."

Mr Campbell, who once made headlines with his "curry my yogurt" comments in the Assembly chamber said he and his party also wanted equality and respect.

Asked about his comment on the Irish language, he said: "When people abuse their position, which is what Sinn Fein did, they can expect it to be exposed, which is what I did and will continue to do, but that's over.

"We are now getting down today to trying and devise a way forward so that the will of the people wanting a government in place is met and respected."

He continued: "They [Sinn Fein] kept saying this was about equality and respect and we want equality and respect too.

"To try and demand it on one side of the political equation in Northern Ireland infers that the other side aren't offering it to you. Which is total and utter nonsense.

"We want the things Sinn Fein want."

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