Liz Truss has claimed she would bring Sinn Fein and the DUP to power together in Northern Ireland if she becomes Prime Minister.
The Tory leadership frontrunner said she will work to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol and restore power-sharing at Stormont, which has been in flux since February.
At the time, the DUP withdrew its first minister from the ruling executive in protest at Britain’s post-Brexit trade deals.
All unionists have expressed concern at the protocol which creates what they see as a border in the Irish Sea.
Ms Truss’ comments come as she and her rival Rishi Sunak are due to travel to Belfast on Wednesday for another leadership talks with Conservative members.
When the two candidates faced questions from the Scottish Tories in Perth, Ms Truss was asked if she could bring Northern Ireland’s nationalist and unionist parties together to restore the devolved executive.
We need to resolve the issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol because at the moment it creates a sense of injustice between the two communities of Northern IrelandLiz Truss
“The answer is yes,” she replied.
“But we need to resolve the issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol because at the moment the Protocol is creating a sense of injustice between the two communities in Northern Ireland because it is very difficult.
“I know there are Scottish companies that have stopped sending goods to Northern Ireland because of the bureaucracy and paperwork.”
Ms Truss stressed the need to reduce controls on goods remaining in the UK and “ensure people in Northern Ireland can benefit from the same tax rates as people in Britain”.
Nor has she ruled out making Mr Sunak a minister in her cabinet if she becomes prime minister, insisting she would recruit “all the best talent from across the Conservative Party”.
While the two contenders are set to be challenged over Northern Ireland’s place in the Union, they both made it clear during Tuesday’s husting that they were opposed to a second Scottish independence referendum.
Ms Truss – who describes herself as a ‘child of the union’ for spending part of her childhood in Paisley – urged the Scottish Government to improve its record rather than request another vote.
“If I am elected Prime Minister, I will not allow another independence referendum,” she said to applause from the crowd at the Perth Concert Hall.
The Secretary of State said she would “never allow our family (of nations) to be separated”.
Rishi Sunak told Tory members at the event he “couldn’t imagine the circumstances” under which he would allow a vote.
“We live in a union that is of course consensual and democratic, and I accept that, but I just don’t think anyone thinks that now or anytime in the near future is even remotely the time to focus on that,” he added.
Mr Sunak stressed the need for politicians to focus on rising energy costs and not on Indyref2, which he called “bullshit”.
The former Chancellor also ruled out accepting a Labor proposal to freeze the energy price cap at the current level of £1,971 for six months from October, saving the average household £1,000.
“I don’t think that’s the right approach,” Mr Sunak said.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer on Monday outlined his plans to deal with the cost of living crisis, which would be paid in part by an extension of the windfall levy on oil and gas company profits.
Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie described the Belfast leadership’s hustings as “an opportune moment for both candidates to set out exactly how they will proceed in the coming weeks to deal with Protocol”.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/liz-truss-claims-she-would-get-northern-ireland-devolution-working-if-made-pm-41917053.html Liz Truss claims she would get Northern Ireland devolution working if made PM