May and Foster encounter questionable

When the British prime minister Theresa May joined other Conservative Party candidates during her weekend visit to the Balmoral agricultural show near Lisburn at the weekend, she may have noticed that Roger Lomas was missing.

He represented her party in the West Tyrone constituency during the Assembly elections two months ago, and, in a seat with a registered electorate of just under 65,000, managed 27 first preference votes.

The entire level of Tory support in the overall Stormont poll was barely one per cent, but this did not prevent Mrs May from insisting that she was `personally engaged' in efforts to revive our devolved structures.

It will be remembered that, at a crucial stage in the inter-party talks last month, she effectively killed off any prospect of progress by calling an unexpected general election in a particularly blatant act of political expediency.

A full statement at a podium in Downing Street trying justify her actions made no reference whatsoever to the major consequences which were bound to follow for the attempts to rebuild a Stormont administration after all the upheavals it had suffered recently.

During her trip to the agricultural show on Saturday, she also failed to explain her much discussed claim less than a year ago that it was `inconceivable' existing arrangements along the Irish border could remain in place in the event of a UK exit from the EU.

It will further have been noted that Mrs May managed to have a conversation with the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, at the show but was unable to make contact with any of the other main Stormont groups during the course of the day.

Although there might be no formal guidelines requiring her to take an impartial approach to party political developments here, the unmistakable message that Mrs May has offered favoured status to the DUP will certainly not help the chances of restoring devolution in the coming months.

She has embarked on an extremely aggressive Brexit strategy which has displayed a total indifference towards the interests of ordinary nationalists and unionists and indeed all the citizens of Ireland, north and south.

That is her prerogative, but, at some stage, she might reasonably ask Mr Lomas, who perhaps understandably is not a candidate next month, why the level of support for her policies which he recorded in a key electoral area a matter of weeks ago stood at a less than one tenth of a single percentage point.


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