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UUP set for talks with PM before confirming EU stance

By David Young

Published 25/02/2016

Delegation: Mike Nesbitt
Delegation: Mike Nesbitt

Senior Ulster Unionists are to meet with the Prime Minister ahead of deciding their position on the EU referendum.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt will lead a delegation to Downing Street to discuss the issue with David Cameron today.

The UUP is the only one of the five main parties in Northern Ireland yet to declare its hand on the issue.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance are campaigning for the UK to remain within the EU, while the Democratic Unionists are advocating a break away from it.

The UUP is set to make its position clear next week after a series of internal party discussions. However, Mr Nesbitt has already made a number of pro-EU remarks in recent days.

Mr Nesbitt said he had requested the meeting with Mr Cameron to seek clarity on the "many unknowns" surrounding the referendum debate.

"We appear to be the only one of the five main parties who are interested in listening to what people have to say about one of the most important decisions we will ever make as a nation," he said.

"There are many uncertainties about the implications of this referendum. Clearly, an 'out' vote poses an existential threat to the future of the United Kingdom, given the position of the Scottish Nationalists. That should be a major concern for Northern Irish unionists.

"Beyond that, what happens to the plan to set our own rate of corporation tax, to farm subsidies, to the funding of our essential network of community and voluntary sector groups?

"We will be asking these questions of the Prime Minister before calling a special meeting of our party executive, who will decide the party's position ahead of the referendum in June. We expect that executive meeting to be in days rather than weeks."

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