Northern Ireland Conservative Party suffers four leadership resignations while local Ukip group disbands over NI Protocol

The NI Conservative Party has suffered the resignation of five leading party members, inflicting a major blow to the leadership of the ailing party.

Saturday, 16th October 2021, 4:00 am
Updated Sunday, 17th October 2021, 6:12 pm
Stuart Canning, who has resigned as chairman of the East Londonderry Conservative Association

The party won 0.3% of the vote in the 2017 Assembly election and 0.7% in the 2019 General Election in NI.

Vice Chairman Political David Harding from Coleraine confirmed that he and a further three leading NI members had resigned; Chairman Alan Dunlop, Vice Chairman membership and financial Roger Gilpin and East Londonderry Chairman Stuart Canning.

 “I think they have all felt frustration for a while for different reasons” he said. The party has been undergoing a structural reorganisation and engaging members across NI. ”The results have been put to the membership this week but I felt they had watered it down from what needs to be done. So because I couldn’t fully support the proposals it was wrong to stay on as Vice Chair.”

The chairman of the party in NI, Alan Dunlop, said he had resigned his position and membership due to what he said were “wholesale negativity, back-biting and personal attacks”.

He had advocated “root-and-branch reform” of the local party which he said was necessary to make “the electoral breakthrough”. This would have done away with “outdated arrangements more suited to a fusty club than a serious political party” he said. To some extent this led to “indirect criticism of my style and approach”.

He added: “I have borne the brunt of wholesale negativity, back-biting, in-fighting and personal attacks from people who seldom come out from the shadows.”

Stuart Canning, Chairman of the East Londonderry Association said he was “disillusioned” by Boris Johnson’s leadership. “Contrary to his pitch to party members during the 2019 leadership campaign, we have, in my view, moved so far away from our core values of personal liberty; low taxation and fiscal responsibility,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Conservatives responded: “We would like to thank all four for their hard work and the valuable contribution they have made. We wish them well for the future.”

Meanwhile, UKIP NI Region has disbanded as a party. Former chairman, Lisburn man Alan Love, said it was because of “the total silence” national UKIP leadership on “the very serious constitutional issue” of the NI Protocol.

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