Northern Ireland

TUV rubbishes Jamie Bryson’s plan to stand on anti-protocol ticket in East Belfast

The prominent loyalist claimed he had held ‘serious discussions’ with TUV leader Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister and loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson pictured in Parliament Buildings at Stormont presenting a legal document about the return on the Northern Ireland Assembly.  The DUP decided to return to Stormont after anti year boycott in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol which was put in place as a result of BREXIT. 

The legal advice, which was from former Attorney General John Larkin, was commissioned by Ben Habib, Baroness Hoey, Jim Allister and Jamie Bryson.
TUV leader Jim Allister and loyalist Jamie Bryson. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

The TUV has rubbished reports that Jamie Bryson could stand as an anti-protocol candidate in East Belfast.

A party source told The Irish News that claims the prominent loyalist would challenge interim DUP leader Gavin Robinson in the forthcoming general election with an endorsement from the TUV or Reform UK were “nonsense”.

Mr Bryson, who is not a member of either party, told the Belfast Telegraph he had held “serious discussions” with TUV leader Jim Allister about a “partnership” with the party, which recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Reform UK.

He said he would be open to standing as an “independent, perhaps with the endorsement of the TUV and Reform”.

DUP interim leader Gavin Robinson has said the party’s focus remains ‘undiminished’ despite an ‘incredibly difficult and shocking’ six days since the resignation of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Anti-protocol unionists plan to stand against DUP interim leader Gavin Robinson. PICTURE: LIAM MCBURNEY (Liam McBurney/PA)

However, the TUV, whose leader Mr Allister has said it is an “aspiration and intention” to have TUV or Reform UK candidates in each of the north’s 18 constituencies at the general election, is distancing itself from Mr Bryson and what the party source termed as “kite-flying”.

A TUV spokesperson would only say that it was the party’s responsibility to find a candidate to stand in East Belfast.

Mr Bryson subsequently told The Irish News he will not run against the TUV or Reform UK in East Belfast if two-party partnership chooses an alternative candidate.

He has also ruled out standing in North Down, one of three constituencies with which he has an “affiliation”, if independent MLA Alex Easton runs in the Westminster election.

“I understand he will run, and I hope he will – I would support him, I would never run against Alex Easton,” he said.

The anti-protocol campaigner didn’t entirely rule out standing in Strangford, where the sitting MP is DUP veteran Jim Shannon.

Mr Bryson praised Mr Shannon’s constituency record but said he would like more clarity around the MP’s stance on the Safeguarding the Union command paper.

“Jim Shannon is undoubtedly a very hard working MP and does a lot for the people there but I would like to hear from Jim exactly where he stands on the Donaldson deal, because going by some of the contributions in parliament, it would be fair to say that you can come away a little bit confused,” he said.

The prominent loyalist said he did not regard everybody in the DUP as an “opponent”.

He singled out Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart for particular praise.

“Carla has spoken out against the deal and it’s pretty common knowledge that as a party officer she voted against it,” he said.

“She has continued to raise the issue, using her platform in parliament, and she hasn’t at any stage attacked those of us who continue to stand on the ground where we once all stood.”