Leading Tory MEPs give Allister backing

TWO prominent Conservative MEPs have given statements of endorsement to TUV leader Jim Allister.

As Conservative leader David Cameron was campaigning in Northern Ireland, Mr Allister released statements of support from Dan Hannan and Roger Helmer, two outspoken MEPs on the right wing of the Conservative Party.

Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Helmer, MEP for the East Midlands, was careful to stress that he was not endorsing Mr Allister over Jim Nicholson, the candidate standing with the support of both the Ulster Unionists and the Tories.

He said that the statement was a "character reference" and that if he were voting he would give Mr Allister his second preference vote after Mr Nicholson.

In his statement, Mr Helmer said: "With his analytical mind, Jim Allister, in a few sentences, can expose the Lisbon Treaty as the charter for EU super-statehood, which it undoubtedly is.

"His presence in Parliament, not just as a great ambassador for Northern Ireland, but as a leader of Euro-scepticism has been invaluable.

"I hope very much we shall continue to work together in the next European Parliament."

The News Letter was unable to contact Mr Hannan, but, writing on his Daily Telegraph blog in December, the senior Tory said: "At present, Northern Ireland is tremendously lucky to have, alongside UUP and Sinn Fein MEPs, a man who is independent in every sense: Jim Allister.

"Jim was elected on the DUP ticket, but left that party when it went back on its promise and formed a coalition with Sinn Fein.

"Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the DUP left Jim Allister: he is the only unionist politician who has stuck to the position on which all unionists were, until very recently, elected.

"For the DUP, in particular, to have signed up to the deal that they had spent 40 years denouncing was nauseating.

It is to Jim Allister's huge credit that he, almost alone in the Province, resisted the lure of office to keep faith with his electorate."