Kennedy vows to be voice for unionist Remainers as UUP’s European hopeful
Alliance, SDLP and Green leaders also in running for three seats
Danny Kennedy has pledged to be a voice for unionists who voted to remain in the EU after being confirmed as the UUP's European election candidate.
The former Stormont minister is making a political comeback to stand in next month's poll.
The news, which was revealed earlier this week, was confirmed by the party yesterday.
His selection will be formally ratified at a meeting of the UUP's executive tomorrow.
Yesterday the SDLP and Alliance Party also confirmed their candidates for the May 23 poll as Colum Eastwood and Naomi Long respectively.
Mr Kennedy's selection comes following the retirement of veteran Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson.
Mr Kennedy (59), a former Newry and Armagh MLA, previously revealed he had voted Remain in the 2016 referendum but said the vote by the UK as a whole to leave the EU "must be respected and implemented".
Mr Kennedy said that there was a lack of representation for unionists who voted Remain, with the DUP backing the Leave campaign.
"Like many people, I am angry that Brexit has been so badly handled and uncertainty has increased," he said.
"I will offer a constructive approach to Brexit. Let's do Brexit right and end the uncertainty.
"I'm from a border community. I am a border unionist and I know exactly what all this means.
"There are those who claim to represent people who voted Remain, but they haven't represented unionists who voted Remain in the last two years and they won't do so in the future.
"Unionists who voted to remain in the EU did not vote to leave the United Kingdom."
Mr Eastwood, the SDLP leader, also confirmed yesterday that he would run for the European Parliament, saying it should be regarded as another referendum.
The Foyle MLA described next month's vote as an "election like no other".
"In June 2016 a majority of people from communities across Northern Ireland came together to express our clear will that we should remain in the European Union," he said.
"It was a vote that, unlike many others, saw people break free from their traditional trenches to occupy a common ground and a common identity.
"Since then, the broad progressive coalition that came together has been sidelined and silenced. Without a government in Belfast and with the DUP aligned to hard Brexit fanatics in London, people here have been ignored. Enough is enough.
"This European election should be a referendum - the North's people's vote."
Mr Eastwood said the SDLP would be "a strong voice championing our shared values" and opposing what he said was the "destructive ideology" leading the UK Government towards a hard border.
Ms Long said she was running as an Alliance candidate to allow voters to express their will for a second referendum.
Speaking as she submitted her nomination papers at the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland's headquarters in Belfast yesterday, Ms Long, an East Belfast MLA, said the "chaos and uncertainty created by Brexit" had impacted every aspect of life.
"People felt badly let down in the 2016 referendum and since, and Parliament has now reached an impasse," she added.
"The best and potentially only way through this crisis is to put Brexit back to the people.
"Alliance supports a people's vote, crucially including the option to remain.
"A vote for Alliance in this election is the best way to send a clear message we want that new referendum."
At the last European elections in 2014 the three Northern Ireland seats went to Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson, the DUP's Diane Dodds and Mr Nicholson of the UUP.
The SDLP missed out on winning the third seat by fewer than 2,000 votes.
The main candidates running for the three seats this time are Ms Anderson, Mrs Dodds, Mr Kennedy, Mr Eastwood and Ms Long. Clare Bailey will run for the Green Party while Robert Hill will run for Ukip.