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General Election 2019

Retiring Kate Hoey says Tories and DUP will heal their rift after the election

Kate Hoey outside the Houses of Parliament
Kate Hoey outside the Houses of Parliament

By Claire O'Boyle

Brexit-backing Labour veteran Kate Hoey has told how she expects the DUP and Conservative Party to heal their rift after the election.

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The 73-year-old, whose political career spanned 30 years before she recently stood aside from Westminster politics, also said her late mother would be "turning in her grave" that Brexit had yet to be delivered.

The Co Antrim native branded shadow chancellor John McDonnell "a nasty, devious figure", and claimed party leader Jeremy Corbyn "can't stand the EU".

She added: "John was also anti-EU, but not so much as Jeremy; he's changed tack. You see, the Marxist idea is you advance a little bit at a time to gain power. That's really what they're interested in - power."

In a far-reaching interview to mark her exit from Parliament Ms Hoey, who became MP for Vauxhall in 1989, said she would be voting for a pro-Union candidate in Northern Ireland in the upcoming election.

"The DUP are the best option for Leavers," she said, adding that the damaged relationship between the Tories and DUP will "get back on track" after the election.

"Under no circumstances do they want Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister," she said. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Ms Hoey told of her frustration with Brexit-blocking MPs, saying: "Parliament has been awful."

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"When I started, there used to be a dignity about the House of Commons which we've lost completely," she said.

"MPs say there's an impasse in Parliament over Brexit. Yes, I think, and who caused that impasse? You!"

In a swipe at party colleagues who represent pro-Brexit constituencies but seem to oppose it, she said: "They're kidding themselves that they're still honouring the vote because they haven't actually revoked Article 50.

"I think they genuinely believe they're representing some nice, liberal-minded view on things and if you're not in favour of staying in the EU, or at least getting a deal that more or less keeps us in, then you actually are beyond the pale."

The Mallusk-born politician said Boris Johnson has been clear there will not be a border down the Irish Sea.

"As a believer, I have to have faith in Boris," she said. "It's emotional enough leaving the House of Commons after 30 years, it's emotional knowing you won't be able to help people the way you can as an MP… so I can't afford to be depressed about Brexit.

"Deep down, I think there are a lot of politicians who know this has to happen otherwise there is a real threat to our democratic system. Those of us who love our country, who feel very proud to be British, we know that we have to do this, we have to do it in the right way and do it quickly."

She also told of her late mother's thoughts on Brexit.

"My mum was driving the day that she died in her 96th year," Ms Hoey said.

"Back home, she had a massive stroke, and I happened to be there, which was lovely, because I wouldn't have wanted her to go without me. It was just after the referendum and she'd been listening to the news and she was sad: 'You know, Catherine, I don't think they'll ever let us leave'.

"And I said: 'Oh, Mummy, don't be silly. We're in a democracy, we voted to leave'. Well, I think she'd be turning in her grave now."

Leaving the Commons after three decades, Ms Hoey revealed no one had asked her to join the House of Lords, adding: "I don't think Jeremy is going to put me in!"

But she does think she'll be missed around the corridors of Westminster.

"I'm not being big-headed, but I think a lot of people in Parliament will miss me - the staff, the catering people, the library," she said.

"And I think it's just because I'm myself, really."

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