Belfast Telegraph

Former Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott will not confirm if he plans to run in election

Speculation surrounds Mr Elliott after DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party would back him as the agreed unionist candidate in Fermanagh.

Former UUP Fermanagh MP Tom Elliott has not indicated if he will run in this year’s General Election (PA Archive)
Former UUP Fermanagh MP Tom Elliott has not indicated if he will run in this year’s General Election (PA Archive)

By Rebecca Black, PA

Former Ulster Unionist Fermanagh MP Tom Elliott has refused to confirm if he will stand in the forthcoming General Election.

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Mr Elliott found himself at the centre of speculation on Saturday after Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster said her party would back him as the agreed unionist candidate in the Fermanagh South Tyrone constituency.

Mrs Foster made the announcement as the UUP comes under pressure not to run a candidate against her deputy Nigel Dodds in North Belfast.

In a statement on Saturday, Mrs Foster said she believes in unionist co-operation and parties working together to maximise representation.

"Despite the DUP being the largest unionist party in the constituency, it is right to put wider interest ahead of narrow party politics and indicate our support for Tom Elliott to re-take this seat," she said.

"This is something voters from across the unionist community want to see happening and we will be urging DUP supporters to put their full weight behind Tom’s campaign."

But incoming UUP leader Steve Aiken has indicated he is not in favour of participating in unionist pacts for the December 12 poll.

A previous unionist pact saw Mr Elliott win the Fermanagh South Tyrone Westminster seat in 2015, but Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew won the seat back in 2017.

Mr Elliott told the PA news agency that he is not prepared to confirm if he plans to run as a candidate.

“There is a selection meeting this week, I am not saying anything more at the moment,” he said.

It is understood that the UUP’s Fermanagh South Tyrone selection meeting will take place on Thursday.

Sinn Fein last week singled out Mr Dodds, who won a majority of just over 2,000 votes in North Belfast in 2017, as one of its key targets as it aims to increase its number of MPs from seven to eight.

The party is running Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane against Mr Dodds.

It emerged last week that police are investigating threats again Ulster Unionist staff members over the electoral pact row.

PA

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