Belfast Telegraph

UUP 'is abandoning centre-ground'

The Ulster Unionists have abandoned the centre-ground for traditional values, the latest defector from the party has said.

Harry Hamilton added he is disappointed, and criticised the selection process for the Upper Bann Assembly race.

UUP leader Tom Elliott has pledged to run an inclusive party and insisted he is not a dinosaur.

But Mr Hamilton said he regretted the circumstances of his departure.

"It has left me with a real sense of disappointment about being denied the opportunity to serve the best interests of the constituency," he said.

"I cannot help but conclude that my experience over the recent selection process was the manifestation of a once centrist party moving to a more traditional and isolationist position.

"An increase of support is not going to be found by abandoning the middle ground of disaffected, disillusioned and disappointed voters. Someone has to engage with this significant growing section of our community."

He also criticised the selection process in Upper Bann.

"I came into politics to represent people from right across the community, to take their concerns to the highest level, and to express their utter frustration at the smallness of our politics set against the size of our problems," he said. "I am frustrated and dismayed that the party's decision in this process which will in effect ignore a significant majority of supporters who voted for my point of view at the recent Westminster election."

Mr Elliott has pledged to embrace a broad church of party members as long as they shared Ulster Unionist core values.

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