Tory leader David Cameron wants to make Northern Ireland more integrated into the UK, and a more "normal" part of the UK, by merging his party with Northern Irish political party the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), a party which supports Northern Ireland remaining as part of the UK.

The current ruling party in Northern Ireland is another unionist party - the Democratic Unionist Party - but it is with the UUP that the Tory leader David Cameron wants to merge with to have his party "represented in every corner of the UK."

This proposal has the full support of UUP leader Sir Reg Empey.

Cameron to unite Tories with Ulster Unionists in historic deal

By Daily Mail Reporter
24th July 2008
Daily Mail

David Cameron is preparing to extend the Tories' appeal beyond its English heartland by reinstigating the historic relationship with the Ulster Unionists.

He believes the move will leave the Conservatives as the only party with MPs representing 'every corner of the United Kingdom'.

It would be one of the most radical shake-ups in the party's history.

Radical: Tory leader David Cameron and UUP leader Sir Reg Empey plan one of the biggest shake-ups in Tory history

It is also a bid to show that Northern Ireland has moved on from the Troubles when political differences were based almost exclusively on sectarian divisions.

The deal to link the two parties for the first time in 30 years should be finalised this autumn, possibly in time to be formally announced at the UUP annual conference, following months of talks.

Mr Cameron is desperate to broaden the Tory base outside England.

He is acutely aware in particular of the hostility in Scotland which was galvanised during Margaret Thatcher's premiership and has again been brought into sharp relief by today's Glasgow East by- election - where, despite being 20 points ahead in national polls, the party may well lose its deposit.

It means the Conservatives face the prospect of winning the next General Election with almost no MPs outside English constituencies.

They have only one MP in Scotland and three in Wales and, like other mainstream parties, they very rarely fight a seat in Ulster.

As part of a wider plan to improve his appeal across the country, Mr Cameron has been holding secret talks with the UUP to set up the groundbreaking alliance.

Under the new arrangement, Ulster Unionist MPs would take the Tory whip and would be offered ministerial posts in any future government.

Critics, however, pointed out that the UUP only has one MP at Westminster, Lady Sylvia Hermon, and that the Tories are often pushed into third and fourth place in Scotland and Wales. Few seats in Northern England's industrial heartlands are in Tory hands.

Labour holds 39 seats in Scotland and 29 in Wales, and can boast MPs the length and breadth of England, although its support in the South is diminishing rapidly.

But it is after the next General Election that the Tory alliance with the UUP could prove most worthwhile.

With a hung parliament expected to be a real possibility and the UUP predicted to win more seats, it could hold the balance of power and enable Mr Cameron to form a government.

Mr Cameron says in an article in the Daily Telegraph today, co-written with Sir Reg Empey, the leader of the UUP, that he wants Northern Ireland to become a 'normal' part of the UK now the Troubles have been largely sidelined.

Of voters in Northern Ireland, they write: 'Like most others in the UK, what really worries them is social breakdown, fuel duties, the 10p tax row, excessive regulation on business, pensions and the Lisbon treaty.

'There is a real danger that some of Northern Ireland's politicians will continue to look inwards and become "Ulster Nationalists",' they warn.

Of a Tory-UUP alliance, they write: 'This new force - whilst supporting devolution - would be the only genuine national movement that stands and is represented in every part of the United Kingdom.

'For the first time in decades the people of Northern Ireland will now have a new choice of politics.'

Important aspects still to be agreed include whether there would be an alliance where the UUP keeps its separate identity, or if it would come under the Tory Party banner in a full merger. A decision was made last week to set up a working group to thrash out details.

The Conservatives have historic ties with the Ulster Unionists, but since the early Seventies there has been no formal link at Westminster.