Belfast Telegraph

UUP's Nesbitt appears unfazed following difficult week

By David Young

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt was looking chipper yesterday as he handed in nomination papers for next month's snap general election.

The former UTV news anchor - who is the UUP's candidate in the Strangford constituency - has remained tight-lipped this week over a bizarre photograph that emerged appearing to show him lying face down on the carpet of east Belfast's swish Stormont Hotel, just across the road from Parliament Buildings.

Mr Nesbitt (60) was joined yesterday by UUP chairman and former party leader Lord Empey as he handed in his papers at the Electoral Office in Belfast. Cambridge-educated Mr Nesbitt relinquished the leadership role following his party's poor showing in the Assembly election in March.

His successor is Robin Swann.

Attempts to contact Lord Empey for comment last night were unsuccessful.

The Ulster Unionists yesterday revealed they would not now be running a candidate in North Down in the general election - despite announcing one earlier this week

On Monday the UUP said it had selected Alan Chambers MLA as its candidate in the constituency.

But in a statement last night Mr Chambers said: "The Ulster Unionist Party has taken the decision not to stand against the previous sitting MP Sylvia Hermon in the forthcoming Westminster elections.

"This is a decision which I fully endorse."

Mr Swann added: "Given Sylvia's previous links to the Ulster Unionist Party, and the fact that North Down is a unique constituency, the party decided to withdraw.

"Sylvia has enjoyed overwhelming support as the Member of Parliament for North Down."

Anti-Brexit MP Lady Hermon (61) is the widow of former RUC Chief Constable Sir John Hermon.

She has held the seat since 2001 - firstly as a member of the party, and since early 2010 as an independent.

The Ulster Unionists did not stand against her in 2010 nor in 2015.

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