Belfast Telegraph

DUP leader Arlene Foster says Nesbitt's SDLP transfer strategy 'strange'

By John Mulgrew

DUP leader Arlene Foster described it as "strange" that Mike Nesbitt would transfer votes to nationalists over her own party in the forthcoming Assembly election.

UUP leader Nesbitt said that after voting for UUP candidate Andy Allen in his East Belfast constituency, he would be giving his second preference to the SDLP.

No other UUP politician has so far publicly supported their leader's position by saying that they will give a second or third preference to Colum Eastwood's party.

Read more:

Nesbitt out on limb as straw poll of own people hints plan to give transfer to SDLP is not a vote winner

SDLP candidate set to benefit from Nesbitt's largesse won't be reciprocating 

Mrs Foster, speaking during a Northern Ireland Chamber event in Belfast on Tuesday said she understood why other Ulster Unionist Party members had disagreed with the leader's comments, and why they would transfer votes to the DUP and other unionists.

She said the UUP candidates would be "cutting their noses off to spite their faces" by transferring to the SDLP and would themselves require unionist votes in order to get elected.

Mrs Foster also told business leaders that a stable Executive and devolved government is required to secure a reduced rate of corporation tax.

She said that cannot happen if Northern Ireland returns to direct rule.

The DUP leader said she would considered reducing the rate further still, to 10%.

Speaking about the collapse of Stormont, she said it was down to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams trying to reassert control in Northern Ireland.

She said she "understood" the annoyance of a fresh election just months after the public went to the polls in May, and acknowledged "mistakes have been made".

Mrs Foster added that a lack of a stable government will threaten job growth and creation for the Northern Ireland economy.

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