A former Tory candidate for Westminster has announced he is quitting the Conservatives — his second resignation from a political party in 14 months.
Ian Parsley, who ran on the Unionist-Conservative UCUNF ticket in North Down earlier this year, revealed he was resigning on his website.
In a lengthy statement, he accused the Conservatives of lacking the “political space and capacity” to “pursue and deliver effective mainstream, non-sectarian and responsible politics in Northern Ireland”.
After standing as Alliance’s European election candidate in June 2009, Mr Parsley left the party just three months later to stand in the General Election on the UCUNF ticket.
His resignation comes days after his partner, Paula Bradshaw, announced her defection from the UUP to Alliance.
Mr Parsley wrote: “The Conservatives should long ago have been honest that they could not afford to take the serious political action required to seek an electoral mandate in Northern Ireland given the current political and economic situation here; they should also have recognised months ago that the new Ulster Unionist Party lacks any commitment to the ‘mainstream, non-sectarian’ politics to which the Secretary of State has rightly committed himself.”
He speaks of his sadness at leaving Alliance — prompting speculation of a return.
“I can say that I was greatly sorry about the manner of my departure from the Alliance Party, which I mishandled, and for any hurt I caused those who had campaigned for me just months before,” he adds. “For this I can now unreservedly apologise.”