- Former prime minister says a deal with the DUP could force “hard men” to return to Northern Ireland.
- Major warns that a deal could cause the peace process to “unwind”.
- He warns that any deal with the DUP would also cause resentment with voters in the rest of the UK.
- Major pleads with May to reject a deal and form a minority government instead.
LONDON — Theresa May’s plans to make a hung parliament deal with the Democratic Unionist Party will risk the return of violence to Northern Ireland, former Conservative Prime Minister John Major has warned.
In an extraordinary intervention, Major warned that the deal could cause the peace process, which he played a large part in securing as prime minister, to “unwind” and urged May to avoid risking this at all costs.
“People regard the peace process, that was very hard-earned [as certain],” he told the World at One on Tuesday.
“People shouldn’t regard it as a given. It is uncertain, it is under stress, it is fragile.”
He warned that any deal with the DUP could lead to violence.
“The last thing anyone wishes to see is one or other of the communities [in Northern Ireland] feeling so aggrieved that the hard men that are still lurking in the corners of the community return.”
He added that doing such a deal could lead to events in the province spiralling out of control.
“My main concern is the peace process,” he said.
“A fundamental part of that process is that the UK government needs to be impartial between all the competing interests.
“The danger is, however much any government tried, they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal in Westminster with one of the Northern Ireland parties…
“If they cease to be seen as an honest broker than we cannot be certain how events will unwind. Events don’t always unwind as you expect them to unwind. You need to be prepared for the unexpected. We need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
Major said that any DUP deal would inevitably involve giving extra cash to Northern Ireland at the expense of other parts of the UK.
He warned that it would be seen as “paying cash for votes” which would “cost [us] votes by the bucketload” in the country.
The former PM added that May should instead seek to govern as a minority administration instead.
“Although a deal would make parliamentary votes easier I’m not convinced it is absolutely necessary,” he said.
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