Belfast Telegraph

Opposition issue won't disappear for new UUP leader

By Liam Clarke

Tomorrow we will be able to make an educated guess at the outcome of the UUP leadership election, based on a survey by LucidTalk, our polling partners.

It samples opinion among voters, who identify as party members, or supporters, in six key areas of strength on a variety of topics.

Until then, it can be said that, whoever wins, the party is entering new territory.

The new leader will be from the east of the province, he will be a man of modern outlook and he will seek to rebuild the party as a powerful, centre-Right force. That can be said of both Mike Nesbitt, the favourite, and John McCallister, the man who has raised most of the issues.

Throughout the campaign, Nesbitt has tried to avoid any slip ups. Most regard the contest as his to lose, but he met McCallister on at least one issue. He has signalled opposition to unionist unity, though McCallister would like more clarity on this front.

The main issue dividing them is whether the UUP should go into Opposition.

McCallister would do it on Monday. Nesbitt quips that he would rather see the DUP out of government and calls for legislation to fund and resource an official Opposition.

Whichever of them wins on Saturday, this is an issue that won't go away.

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