Our two great parties have created a dynamic new electoral force for Northern Ireland. And it’s because we made that step that today we are not just saying that we are the party of the union. We are showing that we are the party of the union. The party of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England – with candidates standing in every part of the United Kingdom.
Nobody else can say that. Not Labour. Not the Liberal Democrats. And none of the local parties here in Northern Ireland. So why is this so important?
It’s important because of our deep commitment to the union. So let me repeat the pledge I made to you in Belfast a year and a half ago. I will never be neutral on the Union.
We passionately believe that England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are stronger together, weaker apart – and the union of our two parties strengthens those bonds. But our new electoral force is also important for another reason. For as long as anyone can remember, politics here has been dominated by constitutional issues – the latest developments in the peace process.
This election presents a new opportunity to participate in the mainstream of British politics. Mainstream politics in which issues like taxes, pensions, defence and foreign policy. That are decided in Westminster yet affect every single person in Northern Ireland are part of the mainstream political debate.
Mainstream politics in which people in Northern Ireland can participate at all levels of government in the UK – from the council chamber right the way to the Cabinet table itself. At this election, only Conservatives and Unionists are offering people in Northern Ireland that opportunity - the chance to elect MPs who can be part of the government of the United Kingdom.
We’ve got record government debt. Record government borrowing. Unemployment is up. In this contract are the radical plans to dig us out of that mess. Plans to make government accountable, stop the waste, stop Labour’s jobs tax – and get better services for the taxes you pay. Plans to make the UK the best place in the world to do business. Stopping the rise of red tape, lower corporation tax rates, abolishing employment taxes on the first ten jobs created by new businesses. We’ll bring a new age of enterprise and ambition across the United Kingdom.
In this part of the UK we’ll go even further, looking at ways of turning Northern Ireland into an enterprise zone. And we’ll produce a government paper examining how we can change the corporation tax rate here, so that we can get even more investment coming in. We want to grow the size of the private sector in Northern Ireland to create new jobs and investment.
But let me also say this. The country faces some difficult decisions ahead on how we will tackle the deficit.
I want people to know that if elected I will make these decisions with compassion, reasonableness and a concern for the most disadvantaged. That is who I am and that is what a government I lead will be like. So we will continue to fund Northern Ireland according to its needs, and we will tackle the deficit while protecting the essential frontline public services that we all rely on. There is no way Northern Ireland will be singled out over and above any other part of the UK.
I know that for many years people in Northern Ireland felt cut off from the rest of the United Kingdom, including from the government. I want to end that sense of isolation.
I want to give voters in Northern Ireland the right – for the first time in generations – to vote for a party capable of forming the government of our United Kingdom to enable people in Northern Ireland to play their full part in the affairs of the country as a whole and to realise at long last the basic democratic right to equal citizenship within the United Kingdom.
That can only happen through the partnership of our two parties. Other parties can talk about this. Only Conservatives and Unionists can deliver. Of all the parties standing in Northern Ireland at this election – only we can form the government of our country.
Of all the parties standing in Northern Ireland at this election – only we can get a decisive mandate and strong majority in the House of Commons. Of all the parties promising change – only we can deliver it.