The unionist pact is “a really backward step, pulling politics back into orange and green and trapping us in the past”, independent MLA John McCallister says.
The former UUP and NI21 MLA believes local politics should be about “ideas and big policy issues such as health, education, the national deficit and Westminster issues such as foreign affairs - not just about them and us, about keeping the other party out”.
This will make the UUP irrelevant in areas it is standing downJohn McCallister
He is bitterly disappointed that his former party is now not standing in north and east Belfast for Westminster, which he believes will make it “irrelevant” in those areas come the Assembly elections.
The UUP has no chance of winning Newry and Armagh, and the slim chance it could win Fermanagh-South Tyrone is not worth the cost of the party’s dignity, he says.
The move also undermines the credibility of its Upper Bann candidate, he says.
“Seventeen years after the Good Friday Agreement we are still in tribal green and orange politics.”
While some claimed the many unionist parties in the European election would shred the unionist vote the opposite happened, he said. Unionist participation increased because voters could choose between the DUP, UUP, TUV, Tories, UKIP and NI21. But turnout in this election could now drop below 50 per cent, he believes.
The non-tribal Alliance Party does not dominate more because it is “part of the tribal furniture”, he added.