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1,200 set to decide UUP leader race

By Noel McAdam

Grassroots Ulster Unionist members gather tonight to vote for a new leader to attempt to restore the party’s electoral fortunes.

Around 1,200 members — just over half of those believed to be entitled to vote — are meeting in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

They have to choose between Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott, widely viewed as the favourite, and Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea. Each candidate will have 10 minutes to make a final overture to the activists.

Mr Elliott has promised an immediate review of the party’s policies, although no major changes are anticipated. Mr McCrea has pledged a root and branch change in the party’s organisation and approach.

Outgoing leader Sir Reg Empey is in the US on a ministerial visit.

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