Tories divided over UUP link-up

Image caption,
Tories are unsure about their link-up with the UUP

Conservatives in Northern Ireland are divided over whether to continue the electoral link-up with the Ulster Unionists, the BBC has learned.

Confidential minutes of an internal party meeting leaked to the BBC reveal striking differences about the direction the party should take.

Some party members wished to end the relationship with the Ulster Unionists.

Others felt that the pact should continue into forthcoming Assembly and council elections.

Northern Ireland's Conservatives met to discuss the outcome of the general election.

The minutes of the meeting indicate that there was a strong desire to see Conservative candidates selected for forthcoming elections soon.

They also show that there was no support for participation in unionist unity talks, with discussions between the Conservatives and Unionists and the DUP prior to the election described as "damaging and demoralising".

The electoral name - Ulster Conservatives and Unionists New Force (UCUNF) - was dismissed as "weak" and it was widely felt that Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson should not act as political leader of the Northern Ireland Conservatives.

Some members felt that a new, separate, centre-right party should be formed in Northern Ireland affiliated to, but not part of, the Conservative Party.

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