Thursday 23 November 2017

Unionists meet to discuss pact in UK vote

‘Arrogant’: Arlene Foster Picture: PA
‘Arrogant’: Arlene Foster Picture: PA

Deborah McAleese and David Young

The leaders of the Democratic Unionists and Ulster Unionists have met to discuss a possible pact for the UK general election.

The DUP's Arlene Foster and UUP leader Robin Swann held their first meeting to explore the potential of joining forces in a bid to return the maximum number of unionist MPs to Westminster. A spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said that the meeting took place yesterday afternoon.

The meeting got off to a shaky start after Mr Swann criticised Mrs Foster for being "a bit arrogant" in remarks she made in a newspaper about her party's position on a unionist pact. Mrs Foster had said that the DUP would not stand in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, but wanted a clear run in South Belfast.

In the last UK general election, the DUP and UUP agreed pacts in four constituencies.

Stormont politicians will decide on Thursday whether to halt talks to restore power-sharing until the UK general election is over. There is a growing expectation the process may be paused or significantly scaled back until after June 8.

The matter will be discussed when the leaders of the main parties meet Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan.

Meanwhile, UK Conservative MP Laurence Robertson, chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said it was "really unfortunate" returning powers to Westminster is viewed as the best way to resolve difficulties in the region.

Irish Independent

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