Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019: Ulster Unionists select South Belfast candidate Michael Henderson

The Ulster Unionist Party has selected councillor Michael Henderson as its candidate for South Belfast in the upcoming General Election.

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The UUP announced that Mr Henderson, who represents Castlereagh South on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, will stand for Parliament on Thursday December 12.

Newly installed Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken had decided against standing a candidate in North Belfast after criticism that it would split the vote and see Sinn Fein's John Finuance take the seat from DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

Loyalist blogger and activist Jamie Bryson criticised Mr Aiken's decision to select a candidate for South Belfast, fearing that it will lead to the SDLP's Claire Hanna taking the seat from DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly.

Sinn Fein had decided against putting a candidate forward in the south of Belfast after the SDLP declined to stand anyone in North Belfast.

He tweeted: "The UUP are an absolute disgrace. As unionism unites in the face of a joint SF/SDLP republican movement in south & north Belfast, the UUP announce they are running in south Belfast. They can't get elected, all they can do is hurt Emma Little Pengelly. Unionism will never forgive them."

The Belfast Telegraph has approached the Ulster Unionist Party for comment.

Mr Aiken, who was confirmed as Ulster Unionist leader on Saturday, had previously ruled out an electoral pact with the DUP but decided not to stand in North Belfast.

His decision to put forward Mr Henderson in the constituency could improve the chances of Ms Hanna or Alliance candidate Paula Bradshaw in taking the seat.

The Green Party leader Clare Bailey decided against standing candidates in Belfast in a bid to boost the chances of pro-Remain politicians being elected to Westminster.

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