By Michelle Devane, PA
The widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble has backed Liz Truss in the leadership race saying she is confident that her late husband’s legacy of peace in Northern Ireland “will be safe with her”.
Daphne Trimble said one of her late husband’s last acts was to declare his support for her.
Writing in the Telegraph newspaper published on Thursday Ms Trimble said she believed Ms Truss has the “best record and a viable plan” to protect the Union.
David Trimble, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, died last month at the age of 77 following an illness.
One of the principal architects of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement that ended decades of conflict in the region, he jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with the late SDLP leader John Hume.
The powersharing structures Mr Trimble helped create in the landmark 1998 agreement are currently in limbo, with the DUP blocking the creation of a governing executive in protest at Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms Trimble wrote: “I believe that in this contest, Liz Truss has the best record and a viable plan to protect our Union and Northern Ireland’s integral place within it.
“I know David thought the same.
“One of the last things he did before we lost him was to ask his son to collect his voting papers so he could vote for Liz.
“He was adamant that she was what the country needed and I agree.
“She has already proven her resolve and bravery in the face of opposition to our most valuable asset, and I am confident that my husband’s legacy, peace in Northern Ireland, will be safe with her.”
Ms Trimble, born Daphne Orr, is an academic who served as a member of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
In the article she described unionism is a core Conservative value that is “under threat”, primarily as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol, adding it was one of the reasons she is backing Ms Truss.
She said the Protocol is putting “hard-won gains at risk”.
“In David’s words: ‘It drives a coach and horses through the Agreement.’
“There needs to be a solution,” she wrote.
“It will not be easy, but the alternative is a continued political impasse in Northern Ireland, ongoing disillusion of the Unionist community, and ultimately a breakdown of the fabric of our United Kingdom.”
She added that an “iron will” will be needed to see the Protocol Bill through Parliament and into law.
But said it would be “essential if we are to restore our political institutions in Northern Ireland and if we are to show the European Union that we will do whatever it takes to deliver the right solution for the UK”.