“Some time ago I met the leader of the UUP to discuss Unionist Unity at that discussion I was offered the opportunity to join the UUP and in return, they would run me for Westminster, I politely turned this down and reiterated my desire to remain as an Independent Unionist as that was what the ticket that I had been elected for at the NI Assembly Election, and that I did not feel changing designation to another Unionist Party was the way to go, I never heard from the UUP leader again.

In recent months I was approached by four UUP Councillors and on one occasion I was told that if I ran for the Westminster Election they would run a big profile name against me, but if I joined I would be their candidate. I see this as a threat, join us or else? I turned this down and reiterated my position that I was an Independent Unionist and that I would not be joining the Ulster Unionist Party. It had also been drawn to my attention that various individuals had been approached to run for the UUP and I have zero interest in who they run.

I have zero desire to join another Unionist Party, but I am interested in Unionist Unity that will promote the Union and is in the best interest of the people of North Down. Whatever my future may be it will not be done with you, do as we say or else. My position is simple I am an Independent Unionist who will put the people of my constituency first and not put myself first, nor at the bidding of any other political party, I am not for sale and will not be bullied or spooked.

I do find it disingenuous when there are ongoing discussions and that the UUP decided to ignore that and do their own thing. I am an Independent Unionist and that is what I will stay for as long as I remain in politics, and I will make my decisions on my future if and when the time comes.”