Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

UUP meet to consider Tory plan

David Cameron and Sir Reg Empey

by Martina Purdy
BBC NI political correspondent

The Ulster Unionist Executive is to meet on Thursday evening to consider proposals for a new partnership with the Conservative Party.

Party officers plan an initial meeting to decide whether to put a proposal to the executive to endorse.

The two parties have yet to agree on a name for the new arrangement that is acceptable to the Electoral Commission

A well-placed Ulster Unionist said a deal was 95% complete but a few issues needed to be addressed.

Under the proposals the two parties would remain separate entities.

But a new Conservative and Ulster Unionist Joint Committee would be established to make decisions on a consensus basis.

Initially, it could mean joint candidates being fielded in Europe and Westminster elections, but not assembly or council polls.

The first test would be Jim Nicholson in next year's European election as he already is a member of the Conservative Party in the European parliament.

Thursday's meeting will be held at Stormont.

The Ulster Unionist leadership is hoping to have the outstanding issues clarified ahead of the meeting.

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