Parties form 'New Force' in politics

THE UUP and Tories have voted to fight elections on a joint ticket and under a new name.

It's the first concrete move to create formal links between the two parties.

Painstaking

After painstaking behind-the-scenes negotiations the ballot papers will carry the title Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force.

Delegates from the two parties last night voted to back the new way forward after they were shown a blueprint for the future prepared by a joint committee made up of senior figures from both organisations.

Joy

Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Sir Reg Empey said: "I am delighted that my party has agreed to work more closely with the Conservative Party.

"This is something entirely new in Northern Ireland, something which would allow us to become more fully and demonstrably an equal partner within the UK family.

"The UUP believes that the Union is a two-way process and we believe that a pan UK unionist vehicle is the best way of promoting the values of the Union."

Merger

The parties have also stressed their new force does not represent a merger of the two organisations.

The Northern Ireland Conser-vatives also met to discuss the document and unanimously backed it, while at a separate meeting the UUP's ruling executive agreed to support the new charter.

A Conservative spokesman said: "We are delighted with the Unionists' decision and look forward to campaigning from tomorrow as the Conservatives and Unionists."