I’ve just been chatting to the party leader, in the wake of a successful conference speech.
I took the opportunity to ask him about the ‘unionist unity’ question. He was fairly adamant that the Conservatives and Unionists would not be standing aside. It is clear that Arlene Foster’s involvement in the DUP campaign for an electoral deal is particularly irksome to Ulster Unionists.
Sir Reg was scathing about her hypocrisy and motioned towards the Beaten Docket pub as an emblem of the DUP’s chances in any election. When the Conservatives and Unionists select their candidates, Empey insisted, the DUP should simply support them.
Looking ahead to Assembly elections, likely to take place in 2011, the UUP party leader acknowledged that the Conservative and UUP connection would have to be considered. He agreed that it was difficult to envisage candidates from two connected parties fighting against each other, but highlighted legal difficulties in extending the Westminster arrangement.