A POLITICIAN who quit the PUP over differing opinions on the Northern Ireland Protocol has joined the UUP.
John Kyle, a Belfast-based GP, quit the Progressive Unionist Party in December.
One of the most high-profile elected representatives for the PUP, Mr Kyle has served on Belfast City Council since 2007 when he was co-opted following the death of former party leader David Ervine.
It had been reported that he would continue as an independent unionist.
However, Mr Kyle announced yesterday that he had joined the UUP.
"I certainly believe these are important days and challenging days and I believe that we need a unionism that is forward-looking, that is positive, to use David Ervine's word, that is confident, that is solution-focused and is tolerant and inclusive and I think the UUP and Doug Beattie, in his leadership of it, best epitomise this," he told the BBC.
"I think it's important for Northern Ireland to have a unionism that is confident and progressive and forward-looking and so, I want to lend my support to it."
Mr Kyle said from Mr Beattie's "track record over the past year" he has "clearly wanted to sound a more positive, forward-looking note".
"I think he's looked to reach out to people who previously would have voted unionist but who have had misgivings due to events of the past three or four years or longer," he said.
"There's a whole swathe of civic unionists there who feel exacerbated with the very negative reactionary politics that have been on display from unionist parties in recent years and I think Doug has made it clear that he wants to move forward in a way that draws people into the party.
"Also that builds bridges with other people in Northern Ireland to create a Northern Ireland that is economically successful, that is socially inclusive."