Trevor Smith (York, House of Lords): The formal re-uniting of the Ulster Unionist Party and Conservatives is major blunder by David Cameron: it will further polarise politics in Northern Ireland. It will invite a response not only from the other legitimate political parties in Ulster but, worse, is likely to provoke further violence from the dissident Republican para-military groups.
His assertion at the UUP's annual conference that this new merger signals his Unionist credentials is foolish and dangerous posturing. The UUP is now a small rump of a party with only one MP at Westminster and she, Lady Hermon, is rightly sceptical of the new arrangement. It will do nothing for the Tories and precious little for the UUP.
However, Cameron's Unionism is not spread equally thickly throughout the UK. In Scotland he tactically hopes that the SNP will be successful enough to limit the number of Labour MPs at Westminster to secure him a majority at the next General Election. Cynical tactics for a party leader who proclaims transparency and integrity in policy formation.
Trevor Smith is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Northern Ireland in the House of Lords
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