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UUP 'yet to decide on future Executive role'

By Rebecca Black

The sole contender to be the next leader of the Ulster Unionist Party said no decision has been taken on whether or not it will be part of a new Executive at Stormont.

Robin Swann emerged as the only runner to replace Mike Nesbitt on Friday after nominations officially closed. Mr Nesbitt resigned during the election count earlier this month as the UUP's representation at the Assembly slumped to just 10 MLAs.

However, Mr Swann has defended his party's result, pointing out that the number of MLAs had been slashed from six to just five per constituency and that the party had actually attracted a record high vote.

"Our last election result was 103,000 votes, the first time we have actually got over 100,000 votes," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday News programme.

"But our election result did not transfer into seats. Going in as leader I have in mind targeted seats where I think we can make gains; that's for the internal discussions within the party."

He also insisted that the UUP remains a force to be reckoned with adding it has not yet decided whether it will re-enter the Executive.

"One of the problems we have is that we want to see an Executive that functions and if it is a multi-party Executive then all those parties have to be treated fairly and with respect," he said.

"That's something we didn't see when we were in the Assembly last time... if their attitude doesn't change towards us then our attitude won't change towards them. We haven't made a firm decision yet if we are going into the Executive or staying in Opposition."

He defended the decision to go into Opposition, and claimed that it had been starting to work well before the collapse of the Assembly."

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