Peter Robinson has accused the sacked Ulster Unionist deputy leader of being “trapped in a Life On Mars 1970s-style time warp”.
The First Minister lambasted John McCallister for “talking nonsense” after the UUP man criticised his own party for “sleepwalking into unionist unity” with the DUP.
In a speech at the annual dinner of the DUP’s Backwater branch, Mr Robinson claimed Mr McCallister misunderstood the modern DUP — and had more in common with it than he thought.
“John suffers from a deluded view of what the UUP has represented for most of its history and a distorted view of what the DUP represents today,” said the DUP leader.
“One would be forgiven for thinking he was trapped in a Life On Mars 1970s-style time warp.”
Mr Robinson argued that a “realignment of unionist politics has been unfolding for over a decade”, but said recent co-operation with the UUP did not represent the first steps towards the formation of one unionist party.
He accused Mr McCallister of adopting an “‘ourselves alone’ view of the Ulster Unionist Party”.
“I want to see unionism, whether it is represented by one party or two, being more than a sectarian headcount at election time. I want to see the unionist cake grown, not divided,” the First Minister added.
Yesterday Mr McCallister was unavailable for comment.