Belfast Telegraph

Steve Aiken to become Ulster Unionist leader

He will succeed Robin Swann as leader of the party after no other names were put forward.

Steve Aiken will be the new leader of the UUP (Liam McBurney/PA)
Steve Aiken will be the new leader of the UUP (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Eimear McGovern

South Antrim MLA Steve Aiken is to become the next leader of the UUP, it has been revealed.

It was confirmed on Wednesday night that Mr Aiken's name was the only one put forward to succeed the outgoing leader Robin Swann after he announced in September he would not be seeking re-election.

Before entering politics, Mr Aiken was a Royal Navy commander and was chief executive of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce.

He was later elected to the Assembly in 2016 and is currently the UUP's party spokesperson on the economy.

Mr Aiken will be confirmed as leader at the party's EGM on November 9 at the Hilton hotel in Templepatrick.

Retired Army captain Doug Beattie said earlier in October he would endorse Mr Aiken for the position of leader instead of putting himself forward for the role.

He said Mr Aiken had the authority to bring the party on to a "more progressive path both internally and externally".

Former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt also ruled himself out of the race to succeed Robin Swann after revealing he’s suffering from a heart condition.

It follows electoral decline for the party over recent years, having lost six seats in 2017's assembly election, followed by two MPs in the general election within the next several months.

The party also lost 13 councillors in the local government elections in May.

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