Tory ‘hustings’ branded a charade

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Sinn Féin has branded the arrival of the Tory leadership contest ‘totally insulting’ and said they have no regard for the people of the north of Ireland.

The party has 600 members in the Six Counties, but according to one analysis just 112 are resident here, while almost double that number are in fact resident in Spain.

The party’s electoral record constantly breaks new lows in the North, reaching just 254 in the last Assembly election, or 0.03% of the total poll.

Nevertheless, more than a hundred party members turned up at the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast for an event that amounted to little more than a media stunt.

John Finucane, Sinn Féin’s North Belfast MP, said the Tories “have no mandate and not a single elected representative in Ireland and they have absolutely no regard for the democratic wishes of the people of the north.

“It’s totally insulting for Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to rock up here today to choose a Tory leader and British Prime Minister that no one in the north voted for in the first place.

“What people did vote for was to oppose the destructive Brexit that they forced upon us and to invest an extra £1 billion to fix the health service that they have run into the ground with cruel cuts for over a decade.

“And now the Tories are propping up the DUP’s block on an Executive being formed and money being spent during a cost-of-living emergency, while attempting to strip away our businesses’ unique access to the British and EU markets that is creating jobs here.

“No matter who becomes Tory leader or British Prime Minister, it is clear that they will not act in the best interests of people in Ireland.”

Speaking at the event, Truss said she expects her Brexit-smashing protocol Bill to progress through the Westminster parliament and for powersharing to be re-established at Stormont.

Her legislation breaks international law by facilitating the move to renege on the Brexit agreement’s protocol on Ireland.

She falsely stated that the Bill is “absolutely legal” and said she would not accept any compromises with the EU if it meant her demands were not met.

She also said she will be “very clear” with US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to accept “exactly what I think about this and exactly what we need to do”.

Sunak was badly briefed, beginning his pitch with a bizarre “Good afternoon my fellow Britons”, to the confusion of those present.

On the protocol, he admitted his plan “is the same as Liz’s plan”.

There were no questions for either candidate about what they intend to do to prevent a hard border being reintroduced through Ireland.

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