The DUP-UUP pact may deliver the UUP two, possibly three Westminster seats at most. More importantly the party would still play second fiddle to the DUP.
The UUP could probably secure a better deal by joining a pro-EU alliance with the SDLP and others.
The previous UUP leader laid the ground for working with the SDLP and others in a progressive alliance such as this.
Ironically perhaps, with the Alliance Party ruling out any pacts or coalitions, this just strengthens the UUP’s hand in a pro-EU alliance and they could aim to take six or more Westminster seats, which would make them the voice of unionism at Westminster.
More than that, they could negotiate for all pro-EU alliance candidates to take their Westminster seats, which would influence who the candidates are.
Lastly, and in a twist worthy of the Game of Thrones, many of those responsible for hollowing out and destroying the UUP over the 1998 Belfast Agreement are now leading figures in the DUP and this 2017 Westminster election offers the UUP the opportunity to become the lead unionist party in their stead.
The question is: do the UUP have the guile to take advantage of this opportunity?
Bernard J. Mulholland, Malone Road BT9