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Tom Elliott: I will block Sinn Fein First Minister

By David Gordon

Would-be Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott has vowed to work for a law change that could prevent Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister next year.

Mr Elliott is due to officially launch his leadership campaign today in Antrim, where he is expected to be flanked by senior party colleagues.

Rival candidate Basil McCrea confirmed his intention to stand earlier this week.

In a platform piece for today's Belfast Telegraph, Mr Elliott slams the current rules governing the election of First Minister.

Introduced following the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, they mean the largest party will claim the post. There have been fears within unionism that Sinn Fein could emerge with the most seats after next year's Assembly poll.

In his article, Mr Elliott says rules that applied under the 1998 Belfast Agreement should be restored.

He adds: “I have already met with the Secretary of State on this matter and if elected as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, I commit to continuing to work to take us back to the position the people agreed, that the First Minister and the Deputy command cross-community support.That is not sectarianism: that is democracy.”

On the subject of unionist unity, the article says: “I have heard promises of greater co-operation but I have yet to witness delivery. If this doesn't happen others cannot expect our co-operation and I will be prepared to take whatever action is necessary to protect the integrity of the Ulster Unionist Party.”

The UUP leadership vote takes place next month.

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