Northern Ireland

Jamie Bryson considering standing against DUP’s Gavin Robinson for East Belfast Westminster seat

The loyalist activist said he has had ‘serious discussions’ with TUV leader Jim Allister

Jamie Bryson
Jamie Bryson

Jamie Bryson has said he is considering challenging the DUP’s Gavin Robinson for the East Belfast seat in the general election.

It comes as the loyalist activist has reportedly held “serious discussions” with Jim Allister about a “partnership” with the TUV.

The Belfast Telegraph has reported that Mr Bryson said that no definite decision had been made.

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson and TUV leader Jim Allister on the steps of Stormont
Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson and TUV leader Jim Allister on the steps of Stormont (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I can confirm I’ve had serious discussions with Jim (Allister) and Ben (Habib — deputy leader of Reform UK) about standing in the election, but no decision has been made yet,” he said.

“There’s no prospect of me joining any particular party, but I would be open to challenging Gavin Robinson in east Belfast as an independent, perhaps with the endorsement of the TUV and Reform.”

However, Mr Allister said “it is beyond premature to comment on the matter” when asked if he had held discussions with Mr Bryson.

He added: “The TUV and Reform UK haven’t yet settled the formula in terms of seats”.

It comes as Mr Allister vowed to run anti-protocol candidates across every constituency in Northern Ireland.

Last month, the TUV struck an electoral partnership with Reform UK that will see them run agreed candidates in Northern Ireland.

Asked whether it is his intention to run anti-protocol candidates from either his party or Reform in each of the 18 constituencies at the next general election, Mr Allister said it “certainly is the aspirational intention”.

He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Northern Ireland show: “We haven’t named 18 candidates but yes, I said that it was our intention to seek to do that”.

The TUV leader also said that people who are “discomforted by” Brexit’s contentious Northern Ireland Protocol are entitled to have their say.

Running anti-protocol candidates in constituencies such as Lagan Valley and east Belfast could put pressure on the DUP to hold on to its seats.

DUP interim leader Gavin Robinson speaks at Belfast City Hall, about the impact of the last six days following the shock resignation of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
DUP interim leader Gavin Robinson

Mr Allister also said on Sunday that he is “happy to talk” to Mr Robinson ahead of the election, as long as it is about “returning” to the joint unionist declaration in opposition to the protocol.