Conservatives to ‘extol benefits of Union’ during NI manifesto launch

The Conservative Party is set to emphasise the benefits of the Union as it launches its General Election manifesto in Northern Ireland.

The party is running candidates in five of the region’s 18 Westminster constituencies.

It has not won any seats in Northern Ireland in recent general elections.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris is set to address the launch event in Belfast on Saturday.

The party said the manifesto will “re-commit to the Conservatives’ UK-wide plans”.

These include a guarantee not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT, a tax cut for workers, cutting national insurance by £1,350 for the average worker and an ambition to abolish national insurance for workers completely when financially responsible to do so.

The pledges also include tax cuts for the self-employed, pensioners, parents, a workplace pension guarantee not to introduce any new taxes on pensions for the duration of the next parliament and cutting immigration by removing illegal migrants to Rwanda and introducing a legal cap on migration to guarantee that numbers will fall every year.

In terms of Northern Ireland, the Conservatives refer to delivering £3.3 billion of extra funding to stabilise public services, agreeing a new fiscal framework to reflect the different level of need in Northern Ireland and supporting the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery to provide answers for Troubles victims and survivors.

Mr Heaton-Harris is to say that the Conservatives want Northern Ireland to “remain a full and integral part of our great Union” and that “this commitment is not just a matter of policy, but a deep-seated conviction”.

He will also extol the benefits of Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.

Mr Heaton-Harris is to describe Northern Ireland as a “great place to live, work and invest in”, with a “highly educated and talented workforce, a competitive labour market, and lower costs than many other major competitors”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said a vote for the Conservatives is a vote to “deepen precious bonds”.

He said: “Northern Ireland is an integral part of our United Kingdom, and our manifesto outlines our clear plan to continue taking bold action to deliver a safer, more secure, more prosperous future for its people.

“A vote for the Conservative and Unionist Party on July 4 is not only a vote to deepen the precious bonds that unite us but a vote to build on Northern Ireland’s economic success as we cut taxes for working people, protect pensions with our triple lock plus, and lower immigration.”