On 30th November 2022, Centre for the Union launched to a packed crowd in the Boothroyd Room in the House of Commons. Centre for the Union is a think tank concentrating on preserving all aspects of our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Some of the leading Unionist politicians and voices spoke at the event, including DUP MPs Ian Paisley MP, Jim Shannon MP, Paul Girvan MP, non-affiliated peer Baroness Hoey of Lylehill and Rathlin, Conservative peer Lord Moylan, TUV Leader Jim Allister KC MLA, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib and author Jamie Bryson.
Ian Paisley, the DUP MP for North Antrim, who is also Chairman of Centre for the Union, said at the launch:
“I am delighted to have been asked to serve as Parliamentary Chairman of The Centre for the Union. Unionism needs to be united and we need young people leading the fight on the ground as well as us in Parliament.
Our Union is under attack from the usual band of anti-British groups. In Northern Ireland, the Protocol damages the very basis of the union by drawing an internal border in our country that undermines economic and political rights. Republicans see this as an opportunity to undermine the union. We will continue to oppose them.
The Northern Ireland Protocol and powersharing are not compatible, it would be wrong for Westminster and the government to assume that powersharing can continue when this destructive mechanism is in place.
The Protocol has undermined devolved government by failing to have the support of one single unionist MP or MLA. It must be replaced by arrangements that unionists can support.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Business Secretary and Chairman of the ERG, spoke at a dinner following the launch where he said:
“It is about language, very occasionally, I have said Britain when I meant the United Kingdom, I was often told off by Kate Hoey, who has been such a staunch defender of the Union, and rightly so because language is so important.
We always want to emphasise the United Kingdom, every bit of it is equally important because it is our country, one that I and I am sure everyone else here loves greatly.
The United Kingdom is the country I believe in, and I have my patriotism in, the country in which I want to have my children grow up and understand is their nation.
That includes Northern Ireland, which is just as fundamentally a part of the United Kingdom as Somerset. That is why we need to stand firm on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.”
Ethan Thoburn who founded Centre for the Union said:
“Unionism is better when it is united and that is what we are trying to do by producing non-partisan research, comment and events because we really need to work against a common enemy which is the separatist and nationalist movements.
We have a big battle on our hands but it is one which Unionists will win if we stand together, irrespective of political party. The United Kingdom is stronger together, that is why we need to vehemently oppose a second Scottish Independence referendum and the Northern Ireland Protocol which has, to quote the courts, “subjugated the Union”, we now need to unite to save our United Kingdom.”
Baroness Hoey, Jim Shannon and Paul Girvan all spoke on the need for unionism to engage in resisting the ongoing efforts of divisive separatists across the UK, with Mr Shannon recalling the lives of UDR members lost in his own constituency at the hands of IRA terrorism.
The Centre for the Union is committed to building a UK-wide unionist movement across all of our nations. The scope and breadth of our speakers at the initial event were a testament to the significant political and civic support for the movement.