Tories join forces with Unionists
The Conservatives and Ulster Unionists have joined forces to create a coalition designed to win back Conservative support outside England.
The union will involve standing joint candidates in the European election and the general election in Northern Ireland.
The elected candidate is, effectively, under Conservative control as they will be subject to the party Whip.
It is hoped this will bring the Northern Irish public back into the fold of British politics and play a greater role in national Government.
Owen Paterson, Northern Ireland secretary said: “I very much hope this new force will reach out to all voters, particularly those who feel they have been alienated by the current political landscape in Northern Ireland and want to influence national government, putting sectarian divisions behind them.”
David Cameron is “delighted by this agreement” and believes it will change the public’s outlook on politics in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on today’s agreement, Mr Cameron said: “For too long Northern Ireland has been outside of the mainstream of politics in the United Kingdom.
“This new political force will help change that, and allow everyone in Northern Ireland to participate fully in political life both in Northern Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom.”
A joint committee, consisting of four Conservative and four Ulster Unionists, will be put in place to oversee the selection of candidates for the coming elections and also run the campaigns.
The first candidate for the European elections has been announced as Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP, and will sit as a Conservative in the next European parliament.