Belfast Telegraph

Give Boris Johnson a chance as PM urges DUP's Dodds

Boris Johnson with DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster at the party’s conference last year
Boris Johnson with DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster at the party’s conference last year

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has urged the public and politicians to give Boris Johnson a chance to prove himself as Prime Minister.

The North Antrim MP was speaking after Mr Johnson received widespread criticism after winning the Tory leadership contest on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson is set to move into Number 10 on Wednesday evening after Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister.

After his victory Alliance leader Naomi Long said that the UK needed a "statesman not showman," while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that he had "coasted into Downing street on a wave of Brexit bluff and bluster".

However, Mr Dodds told BBC Radio Ulster that Mr Johnson had significant experience and should not be written off so easily.

"Whether the Tory party chose Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson or whoever, it is entirely a matter for them," Mr Dodds said.

"When he was Mayor of London Boris Johnson delivered a considerable amount, running one of the biggest cities in the world with a massive budget, so he has some kind of track record.

"On the Brexit issue there's a lot of division, but people do see him as a centrist in terms of Tory policy and in terms of his outlook on things."

The DUP deputy rejected the idea that the incoming-Prime Minister was an "extremist right-winger".

"I think that people need to give him a chance and see. It certainly isn't the case that Theresa May's premiership over the last couple of years has been covered in glory. I think people really want to see Brexit over the line and done and dusted. "

The North Belfast MP also addressed the renew of his party's confidence and supply agreement with Mr Johnson's government, with negotiations due to take place in the coming days.

Mr Dodds said that the DUP had three priorities, strengthening and advancing the union, the delivery of Brexit and the restoration of Stormont.

"He shares those priorities, we'll work with him in the coming days to achieve those," he said.

"Well also raise with the government, as we always do, a host of issues which affect our constituents including the health service and the rest and clearly the job situation in manufacturing in Northern Ireland at Wrightbus is important, we'll certainly be raising all of those issues."

The DUP deputy leader said that he believed Mr Johnson had the right approach to deliver Brexit.

"He has said that October 31 will be it and I think if you don't have a deadline and don't keep no-deal on the table then you won't get anywhere.

"That's what has devilled the negotiations that Theresa May conducted, it's now clear that Theresa May had never even put that on the table and if you're doing a negotiation that's not the right approach.

"Boris will bring a different approach, people recognise that he's serious about getting this done and for the sake of the country I think everybody recognises this needs to be done."

Asked if he expected the DUP to have a place on the Brexit negotiating team, Mr Dodds said that he believed the new PM would adopt a more "collaborative" approach than his predecessor.

"One of the problems Theresa May ran in to, not just with ourselves, but her own party, was that she kept a very, very tight circle of advisors, not political people, she was very much directed by civil servants," the North Belfast MP said.

"I think he will ensure that as we go along people are heavily involved. The extent of that remains open for discussion."

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