Belfast Telegraph

UUP hopeful doubt over single party

Ulster Unionist Party leadership contender Tom Elliott said he did not believe a single unionist party would be formed in his lifetime.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member added it would only polarise the community and reduce votes.

Next year is Assembly election year and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness could become First Minister without a unionist voting deal.

Mr Elliott has launched his leadership election bid in Antrim and said calls for a single party should be rejected.

"You will not see it under my leadership and I cannot see it in my own lifetime. This would only create polarisation and a further reduction in unionists votes," he said.

Sir Reg Empey announced he would be standing down as leader following a disappointing Westminster election during which the party failed to win a single seat and he failed to take South Antrim.

The UUP had linked up with the Conservatives to fight a single campaign but Mr Elliott said that arrangement would not be repeated.

"We must not enter an election flying any colours other than our own," he added.

The Ballinamallard farmer said there were still opportunities for unionist co-operation if respect was shown for the UUP.

"Any co-operation will be on Ulster Unionist Party terms and for the benefit of this party and unionism as a whole," he said.

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