A former UUP MLA has said that he will transfer to the TUV after voting Ulster Unionist.
Ross Hussey, who has just retired as West Tyrone MLA, said: “Mike made his own position in his constituency clear he would give SDLP his second choice.”
Mr Hussey said that in his constituency, “I will vote Alicia Clarke who hopefully will hold the Ulster Unionist seat I will then vote for Charlie Chittick of the TUV as I know Charlie and consider him a very honourable man.
“Thereafter I’m not sure – I would be a hypocrite to suggest I’d vote DUP as I was present throughout the RHI scandal and it was clear the DUP were up to their neck in it, the Red Sky affair...makes me all the more determined not to give them a vote so after [number] two I haven’t decided.”
Yesterday there was scant internal UUP support for Mr Nesbitt’s stance of transferring to the SDLP ahead of unionists.
Chris McGimpsey, who less than a year ago was a UUP candidate in East Belfast, send a public Facebook message to Fermanagh-South Tyrone candidate Rosemary Barton saying: “Rosie, I am so sorry that our peerless leader has made your life so much more difficult. I wish you all the best of luck.”
However, former SDLP special adviser Michael McKernan said he had respect for Mr Nesbitt’s stance and praised him for having “forged the closest bond between unionists and nationalists in all Northern Ireland’s history”.
He added: “People crave real leadership and Mike Nesbitt has shown some.”
DUP minister Peter Weir repeated his party’s call for UUP candidates to “speak out” on the issue.
The former UUP man said: “Unionists from across Northern Ireland were dismayed at the comments from Mike Nesbitt that he would prefer to see nationalist MLAs elected in preference to other Unionists. I welcome that a number of UUP candidates have spoken out and made clear their wish to see transfers to other pro-Union parties.
“There appears to be no defined UUP position on this issue so it is incumbent upon those others to tell the public where they stand.”