UPPER Bann DUP MLA Sydney Anderson has claimed that the decision by the UUP to reject the invitation for a merger with the Tories should be used as an opportunity to herald closer co-operation between the various strands of unionism.
Speaking after the UUP formally rejected the approach from senior Conservative Lord Feldman Sydney Anderson said:
“It was always likely that the UUP would reject the attempted hostile takeover of the party by the Tories. Now that that decision has been taken there ought to be greater focus on how unionism can work more closely together in the coming years.
“As someone who completed a journey from being an elected UUP representative to being elected as a DUP MLA I have experience of both parties from the inside.
“The recent elections confirmed the electoral balance between the various unionist parties. Those elections confirmed the DUP in a position of considerable political and electoral strength. So our desire for greater unionist co-operation is not born of electoral weakness or anxiety about our own electoral performance. Rather it is born of a wish to maximise unionist electoral strength and to ensure that unionism speaks with the strongest voice possible.
“The DUP wants to ensure that every possible seat is won for unionism at every level across every election. That will be achieved much more easily if unionism works more closely together and goes into future elections on a much more co-operative basis. This is especially so as we look at the potential impact of new constituency boundaries and the proposed new council arrangements.
“Now that the UUP has rejected Tory overtures I would appeal for a real engagement with us in order to maximise unionist success.”