Northern Ireland

TUV says unionists must have anti-protocol candidates to vote for in next Westminster election

TUV leader Jim Allister. Picture: Hugh Russell
TUV leader Jim Allister. PICTURE: HUGH RUSSELL

The TUV has fired a warning shot across the DUP’s bows ahead of any potential restoration of the institutions by insisting there must be an anti-protocol candidate for unionists to vote for in the forthcoming Westminster election.

The TUV election strategy has been agreed by party officers and is based on “embracing two fundamental tenets”.

Jim Allister’s party says that in seats held by non-unionists where the sitting MP could potentially be ousted, it will support an “agreed single unionist candidate”.

The party identifies North Down, Fermanagh & South Tyrone, South Belfast and North Belfast as the target seats.

However, TUV support will be conditional on the agreed candidate opposing the Irish Sea border.

“If there should be a return to Stormont to implement the union-dismantling protocol, with acceptance of EU law and the Irish Sea border, then, unionists who disagree with such folly must have a candidate to vote for,” the party statement said.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has previously stated that he will stand candidates in all 18 constituencies.

Commentator David McCann said the TUV’s move would “focus minds in the DUP”.

“Outside of the DUP, unionist parties struggle for relevance at Westminster,” he said.

“If the TUV stand, it will become much harder for any gains within unionism to be made as even taking a small number of votes will make the difference in some key seats – a house divided simply cannot stand in a first-past-the-post election.”

Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party celebrates with supporters after he won the North Down constituency in the UK General Election at the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, Bangor, Co Down. Picture by Michael Cooper/PA Wire 
Stephen Farry celebrates with supporters after winning North Down in the 2019 election. PICTURE: MICHAEL COOPER/PA

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry, whose North Down seat is arguably top of the TUV’s target list, said his party would contest the election “on a positive message of delivery and progressive values”.

“It will be for the electorate to decide not parties attempting carve up politics behind closed doors,” he said.

“If any unity candidates emerge, it will be interesting to see if they have any coherent policies including on the functioning of the assembly.”