More internal plots inside the UUP?

Well, Jim Nicholson the UUP’s veteran MEP is feeling a little got at

Last night, Mr Nicholson told the News Letter: “I’m extremely saddened by this whole type of briefing which smacks of the same type of underhand comment from people who are not prepared to come out and identify themselves, as happened against Tom Elliott.

“As far as I am concerned, I am not prepared to put up with this. I’m not going to stand for it and these people can either stand up, put up or shut up.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve made my position clear on the Inside Politics show a number of weeks ago, before the whole campaign took place, that I’m enjoying my job, I’m enjoying it more than ever, I’ve got tremendous responsibility in terms of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, I want to continue to work and help on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, and those are my priorities.

“But the one thing that I’m certainly not going to be is put off track on doing my job by these faceless, gutless people who reporters call ‘important people’ or ‘informed sources within the Ulster Unionist Party’.

“Mike Nesbitt said very clearly when he was elected leader that the past was over. As far as I’m concerned, the past is over and if these people want to really come out and challenge me, let them go up there.

“I have stood for election after election since 1975 and if they have the guts to stand there and put their name up against me, I’ll take them on and I’ll take them out. It’s as simple as that.”

The former MP, who has been an MEP for a quarter of a century, said that he would not stand for the off-the-record briefings against him.

“This is the sort of thing that has bedevilled the UUP for years and it’s got to be buried and buried right away,” he said.

“I am prepared to take it on, whatever the outcome. I’m not prepared to sit back and if I’m going to go down, I will go down fighting. I am not going to sit back and have people briefing against me.”

[Alan adds …]

May also be worth noting in the same thread the other UUP story in the News Letter this week.

Rebel Ulster Unionist David McNarry last night claimed that five UUP MLAs have told him they are considering quitting the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group and joining him on the independents’ bench. The Strangford MLA — who will remain suspended from the UUP for another eight months for his public attack on former leader Tom Elliott — claimed that a third of the party’s MLAs were thinking of leaving because “they don’t feel valued”.

Within a few weeks of the leadershop election, I talked to one UUP MLA who was asking why (s)he would stay in the party, and questioning (s)he what the purpose of the party now was. David McNarry’s number ‘five’ is a surprise, but at least three is quite believable. Though I imagine they would see the possibility of being able to go independent without ‘joining’ David McNarry!

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