Northern Ireland news

DUP party election broadcast neglects to mention Brexit

Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland is moving in the 'right direction'

THE DUP is treating Brexit like an "embarrassing relative" by failing to make any mention of the UK's bid to leave the EU in the party's election broadcast for next month's Westminster poll.

The 2 minute and 40 seconds broadcast aired on Tuesday night and featured contributions from party leader Arlene Foster alongside MPs Nigel Dodds, Gavin Robinson and Emma Little-Pengelly.

But whereas it regularly cites Stormont's suspension and the funding which flowed from 2017's confidence and supply deal with the Tories, it doesn't make a single reference to Brexit – the issue most commentators believe defines this election.

Mrs Foster says Northern Ireland is moving in the "right direction", as she notes record levels of employment, growing exports and a "booming" tourism sector.

But she acknowledges that while Stormont was once a "symbol of progress" it has now "stalled".

"Send a message that it's time to get Northern Ireland moving again by restoring the assembly," the former first minister says.

Read More: Both sides of Brexit debate 'would sacrifice Northern Ireland' for preferred outcome

Meanwhile, Mr Dodds highlights how propping up the minority Conservative government at Westminster has helped "deliver an extra £1.5 billion for our schools, hospitals, roads and broadband".

Notably, there is no mention of the DUP's support for Brexit and its initial agreement with Boris Johnson to allow checks on goods moving across the Irish Sea.

Academic Jon Tonge, author of DUP: From Protest to Power, said the broadcast showed that Mrs Foster's party now regarded Brexit as "the embarrassing relative you try and keep away from family events and that no one wants to mention".

Read More: SDLP leader Colum Eastwood calls Brexit 'national emergency' in election launch

"The family has reared him, he’s part of them and you can’t get rid of him but you don’t like talking about him," the University of Liverpool lecturer said.

"Whilst the DUP still formally backs Brexit it would rather have Remain than a Boris Brexit – so better for the DUP to talk about the billion it got from the Conservatives, not the Brexit."

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