Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Conservative quits over UUP pact

Jeffery Peel
Mr Peel says the Ulster Unionists are using the Tories

A Conservative member of a committee set up to increase co-operation between his party and the UUP has resigned.

Jeffrey Peel has launched a furious attack on the Ulster Unionists.

Mr Peel said the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart but is using them to get out of a financial crisis.

Although he is leaving the joint committee, he is not resigning from the Conservative Party or his position as vice chair of the Conservatives in NI.

Last week the parties announced they would fight elections in NI on a joint ticket and under a new name.

Ballot papers will carry the title 'Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force' (UCUNF).

Mr Peel was unhappy with the use of that name and the way in which the new alliance was being branded.

He claimed it had been agreed that only a shortened form of the name was to be used - Conservatives and Unionists.

FROM RADIO ULSTER'S TALK BACK

He also claimed the only from of branding which was to be used was a version of official Conservative 'tree' logo, which he described as reflecting the "non-sectarian and national nature of our joint initiative".

However, he alleges the Ulster Unionists went back on these agreements prompting him to resign

In a statement, Mr Peel said: "I have come to the conclusion that the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart.

"Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes.

"Many UUP members, although by no means all, still adopt a little Ulster mentality when it comes to politics, and the party's only MP is simply not a Conservative."

Ulster Unionist Councillor Mark Cosgrove who is also a member of the joint committee dismissed Mr Peel's concerns.

"We had to respect the heritage and tradition of both the Conservative Party and UUP and that is what we have done," he said.

The DUP takes no pleasure in the fact that UCUNF has inherited from the old UUP the capacity for forming circular firing squads
Peter Robinson, DUP l

"We're adamant that this new electoral force will appeal to everyone right across the pro-Union spectrum."

"Jeffrey has some views which wouldn't resonate with a significant number of the pro-Union community so he has made his own decision for his own reasons."

DUP leader Peter Robinson said the UUP-Conservative alliance was "disintegrating".

"It is sad to see that UCUNF has turned in on itself and is engaged in a bitter civil war between its disparate Tory and UUP elements.

"Parties that are divided, and whose members are attacking each other over the airwaves and in the pages of the newspapers, cannot offer leadership. We saw that during the time when Trimble led the UUP.

"The DUP takes no pleasure in the fact that UCUNF has inherited from the old UUP the capacity for forming circular firing squads."



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