Nigel Dodds: God helped the DUP become kingmakers at Westminster
God helped the DUP become kingmakers at Westminster, the party's most senior MP suggested today.
Deputy leader Nigel Dodds told the party faithful it had not been "an accident how things turned out".
Mr Dodds was crowned negotiator of the year by The Spectator magazine earlier this month after he secured a £1.5bn deal for Northern Ireland to prop up Theresa May's government after the election delivered a hung parliament.
Addressing the annual DUP conference near Belfast today, Mr Dodds said the party had “never had more influence” in Westminster.
He said: “If I’m honest I did not believe that in 2017 we were heading for a hung parliament where the DUP would hold the balance of power.
“But looking back I don’t think it was an accident how things turned out.
“On reflection it’s hard to imagine how the results could have done more to maximise our influence.
“A few more seats for the Conservatives and they could have ploughed on alone. Had they won a fewer number of seats, even with our help they could not have secured a majority.”
And he said: “We entered the negotiations with the guiding star of doing what was right not for the DUP, but for Northern Ireland in particular and the United Kingdom as a whole.”
A DUP source told PoliticsHome the reference to it being no “accident” was an “allusion to guidance from a higher power so to speak”.
Elsewhere, Mr Dodds told the party faithful DUP influence at Westminster would not “wither on the vine after this term” – and would be maximised during the current parliament.
“We will lay the groundwork for the future delivery for Northern Ireland which takes us right through to the next general election," he said.
“Our deal with the Conservatives is for the entire Parliament and we have started the process of determining what will bring success, security and prosperity to the UK and Northern Ireland in the second half of the Parliament.”