It looks like the Tory leader may have arrived just in time to settle a few jumpy nerves within the Ulster Unionist camp. Slugger understands that right up until last week party officials were busy trying to keep three of their MLAs from jumping ship. George Savage, Ken Robinson and Robert Coulter were all thought to have made serious threats to resign the party whip; but were talked out of it at the very last minute. Some of the group were seen talking intensely over a coffee with a number of disaffected members within the Democratic Unionists; though again it is not thought that plans for a new independent group of Unionist MLAs had got beyond the ‘talking about’ stage.
Finding a common enough grievance may have been half the problem, since there seems to have been no single reason for the dissent, other than frustration with the party’s lack of forward momentum under Reg Empey’s leadership.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty