Nesbitt becomes UUP leader

Published Saturday, 31 March 2012
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Mike Nesbitt has been elected the new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.

Nesbitt becomes UUP leader
Mike Nesbitt has been voted in as the new UUP leader (© Pacemaker)

The Strangford MLA won with 536 votes, a convincing margin over John McCallister, who received 129 votes.

Party members made their decision at the UUP AGM on Saturday and with 665 votes cast, UTV's Political Editor Ken Reid said it was a "landslide victory" for Mr Nesbitt.

Mr Nesbitt was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly last year for Strangford and before that he was a Victim's Commissioner.

Mr McCallister, who delivered his wife Jane's second baby earlier this week, finished a distant second, netting only about a third of the votes.

"This will be disappointing for the McCallister camp but a significant victory for Mike Nesbitt," Ken Reid said.

At the meeting on Saturday, Mr Nesbitt pledged to instill a new spirit among people in Northern Ireland.

"I want everyone in this country to get out of bed with a sense of purpose. I want this party to wake up with a sense of purpose," he said.

Speaking to UTV, Mr Nesbitt said there will be changes within the UUP.

"There will be a partial reshuffle, I'm totally focused at this stage on what needs to be done in terms of the party," he said.

If elected, John McCallister had pledged to remove the UUP from the Stormont Executive and form an official opposition, but Mr Nesbitt said he would hold a referendum on the issue.

After the election, Mr McCallister described himself as "a party loyalist".

"Whatever the party decides, I will abide by that, whether it had been 50% plus one, whatever.

"You can't put yourself up for election and suddenly not accept the outcome of that election," he added.

Earlier this month, the party's former leader Tom Elliott announced his decision to step down. Mr Elliott will stay on as MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

© UTV News
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19 Comments
John in Belfast wrote (841 days ago):
Paul, if the SDLP and SF entered into electoral pacts there would be howls of outrage from the unionist side. Let parties seek their own mandates. Anything else is a return to sectarian head counting and that will get us nowhere.
fionn in Derry/Londonderry wrote (841 days ago):
How shame on you, shame on you, and shame on you!!! Sad Polition looking to score a few brownie points a sad polition caught catting around and trying to earn brownie points, shame on you!!! s
Paul in Upper Bann wrote (842 days ago):
Mike was the best hoice, McCallister got the result he deserved, pity to hear Mike throw out te idea of an electoral pact, we could have south Belfast in unioinst hands if they would do an electoral pact, wise up Mike and just do it, the ordinaru unionist working class people want it.
S.B. in Belfast wrote (842 days ago):
Mike, you have stated that you want to spend time in deprived areas. Here's a challenge, the Duncairn area in North Belfast is one of the most deprived places in Northern Ireland/the North and it covers the New Lodge/Tigers Bay area. Community workers and local reps there are currently doing some great cross community work at the minute and relationships are very good. Why don't you contact them and spend a few days on both sides to see the difficulties inner city people are having and the daily problems they face? Now there's a challenge if you want to back up what you said!
jim in s'land wrote (842 days ago):
The court jester has been handed the poison chalice...it seems that a party with over 100 years of history is to have a comedy ending...should be entertaining if nothing else.
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