Belfast Telegraph

DUP to set price for backing Boris Johnson

But Sinn Fein warns Johnson is pursuing a reckless Brexit agenda

Newly elected leader of the Conservatives Boris Johnsonarrives at Tory Party HQ in Westminster yesterday
Newly elected leader of the Conservatives Boris Johnsonarrives at Tory Party HQ in Westminster yesterday
Boris Johnson with DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster at the party’s conference last year
Boris Johnson holding up a string of sausages during a visit to Heck Foods last month
Boris Johnson knocking a boy over while playing touch rugby during a visit to Japan in 2015
Boris Johnson celebrating his election in May 2015
Boris Johnson touring a fish market as London Mayor
Boris Johnson taking part in a tug of war with Armed Forces personnel
Boris Johnson hovering over Hong Kong during a visit as London Mayor in 2013
Boris Johnson bringing tea for the Press to drink outside his house in Thame last year

By Suzanne Breen, political editor

Arlene Foster has said her party's confidence and supply deal with the Tories will continue under Boris Johnson and she looks forward to welcoming the new Prime Minister to Northern Ireland soon.

The DUP leader was speaking after Mr Johnson defeated Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership in a ballot of party members, securing 92,153 votes to his rival's 46,656.

A new Secretary of State is expected to be announced by tomorrow.

Nationalist politicians, the Alliance Party and the Greens voiced concern over a Johnson premiership.

Northern Ireland Conservative deputy chair Gary Hynds said he wanted his new party leader to take the UK out of the EU.

"As the man who led the referendum campaign and the Leave figurehead, he knows what is needed and I think he will deliver Brexit," he added.

"Hopefully, whoever is Secretary of State under his leadership will take a tougher line with the local parties.

"After two-and-a-half years without government, people are fed up. They want a Secretary of State to firmly tell the politicians to get back to work."

Mr Johnson takes over from Theresa May today. In his victory speech yesterday, he vowed to "deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn". He also promised to bring the UK out of the EU by October 31.

"We are once again going to believe in ourselves and, like some slumbering giant, we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self doubt and negativity," Mr Johnson said.

Mrs Foster said: "I have spoken with Boris Johnson and congratulated him on becoming leader of the Conservative Party. We discussed our shared objectives of strengthening every part of the Union, ensuring the 2016 referendum result is implemented and seeing devolution restored in Northern Ireland."

She said the confidence and supply agreement remained. A review due would take place in coming weeks and would explore "the policy priorities for the next parliamentary session".

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said Mr Johnson's overwhelming win gave him "a very strong hand within his own party" on Brexit. He also described the new Tory leader as "a committed unionist".

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said any new Secretary of State must be "prepared to talk tough to the government of the Republic and to spell out to them the consequences of their continued intransigence, and also that they're committed to the Union".

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said her party would "stand up for Irish interests in the face of the reckless Brexit agenda being pursued by incoming Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson".

She added: "We will continue to work with the Dublin government and the EU27 to protect Ireland from the catastrophic impact of the reckless Brexit being pursued by Boris Johnson and the hard Brexiteers."

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann welcomed Mr Johnson's election but warned that being Prime Minister brought "enormous responsibilities".

He said he hoped Mr Johnson would work hard to restore devolution here. Mr Swann also paid tribute to Mrs May for "her service to the entire UK ... one thing that was never in doubt during her tenure was her belief in the Union".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr Johnson's election was "a worrying step toward a hard no-deal Brexit and a hard border in Ireland".

He said the new Tory leader had "coasted into Downing street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster".

It wouldn't be long until he "crashes into the rocky reality that the EU will not sacrifice the interests of Ireland", he said.

Alliance leader Naomi Long added: "Everyone will have their own opinion on Boris Johnson and his career to date.

"However, it is now vital as he takes up the reins as Prime Minister that he demonstrates a level of leadership and seriousness which has been lacking to date.

"At such a critical juncture, we need someone who is detail-focused and sensitive to the complexity of the challenges ahead.

"In short, we need a statesman, not a showman."

Mrs Long said that until now, Mr Johnson had "failed to demonstrate any real understanding of the needs of Northern Ireland". While she remained "sceptical", she wished him well "and will be more than happy to be proved wrong".

Green leader Clare Bailey said: "Boris Johnson may have been selected as the next Prime Minister by the Tory Party but he has no mandate from the people.

"This new Prime Minister is intent on a hard Brexit. The man who compared a border on the island of Ireland to the boundary between Islington and Camden cares little about our economic, social and political future."

Ms Bailey said Mr Johnson had an atrocious record on the environment, women's rights, and issues of social mobility.

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