The UUP have just issued a Press Release on the status of their relationship with the Conservative Party. I will reproduce it below:
UUP statement on discussions with the Conservative Party
After a meeting yesterday, it has been agreed that the Conservative Party and the Ulster Unionist Party will continue to engage in a serious and constructive dialogue about an on-going political and electoral relationship between the two parties as we look ahead to the next European and General Elections. The UUP intend to put forward proposals for approval by their Executive committee in January 2011 which will then be considered by the Board of the Conservative Party. These proposals will include the understanding that any future UUP MP’s and current and future MEP’s will take the Conservative Party Whip.
In the meantime, both parties are conscious of the forthcoming District Council and Assembly elections in May 2011. In this regard, it has been agreed that:
1. Both parties will put up candidates in the District Council Elections, with a view to elected councillors co-operating in Local Government, as rules currently permit this to happen.
2. In the Assembly elections only the UUP will put up candidates. This is because under the current rules parties are unable to fight elections in coalition and once the elections have taken place are unable to enter a post election coalition within the Assembly.
It seems contrary to the rumours suggested that the link between the UUP and the Tories has not been dissolved. This agreement seems to give the UUP more of what it wants than the NI Conservatives. Indeed the arrangement (apart from the councillors issue) appears to leave the situation somewhat similar to the relationship between the parties in the old Stormont. There is also a rumour that Irwin Armstrong the Chairman of the NI Conservative Party has resigned over the decision not to run assembly candidattes but that is as yet unconfirmed.
Ed – update from Chekov on Three Thousand Versts that confirms Irwin Armstrong’s resignation as chair of NI Conservatives …
I had hoped we could build our party as a non sectarian party in Northern Ireland that could honestly represent all. In my opinion the Conservative party has now abandoned any serious attempt to change politics in Northern Ireland and has accepted the narrow one community politics of the UUP to attempt to gain one or two MP’s at the next Westminster election