Farage personally endorses two DUP candidates despite TUV alliance

Farage personally endorses two DUP candidates despite TUV alliance

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has said he will be personally endorsing two DUP candidates in the General Election – despite his party’s alliance with the rival Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

Mr Farage told the PA news agency: “As far as the Northern Ireland thing is concerned, I want to make it clear that whilst there have been negotiations going on in previous times, I will personally be endorsing Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson.”

The two DUP politicians have said it is now clear that the TUV/Reform UK alliance is “non-existent”.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he was disappointed with the comments from Mr Farage, adding that he had entered into the alliance in good faith.

Mr Paisley is the DUP candidate in North Antrim, where he will be challenged by Mr Allister.

Mr Wilson is running in the East Antrim constituency, where the TUV candidate is Matthew Warwick.

The TUV had formed an electoral alliance with Reform UK ahead of July’s poll and is standing in 14 constituencies in Northern Ireland.

Reform’s pact with the TUV was announced by the party’s then-leader Richard Tice in March this year.

General Election campaign 2024
TUV leader Jim Allister is to challenge the DUP in North Antrim (Liam McBurney/PA)

Pressed about his party’s alliance with the TUV, Mr Farage said: “Well, new leadership brings change.

“I wish the TUV well, but I’m gonna stand up to support Sammy Wilson and Ian Paisley as people I fought with all through the Brexit years.”

In a recent interview with the PA news agency, TUV leader Mr Allister characterised the TUV/Reform UK alliance as the “authentic voice” of opposition to post-Brexit trading barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

While it will only be the TUV name on the ballot paper on July 4, the parties had said they would promote a joint message on the campaign trail.

However, a photograph of Mr Farage alongside Mr Paisley delivering his endorsement also appears on the DUP candidate’s election leaflet.

In a joint statement, Mr Paisley and Mr Wilson said: “Nigel Farage is a household name and we welcome his endorsement as the best pro-union candidate in our constituencies.

Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary
Ian Paisley is the DUP candidate in North Antrim at the General Election (Niall Carson/PA)

“Nigel knows us and knows our record of delivering for the people.

“This is a very embarrassing for Jim Allister as the Reform UK leader has endorsed us rather than him because the Reform UK leader recognised that on the big issues we could be relied upon.

“Some people know how to build relationships and deliver results, others just talk about the problems.”

The DUP politicians said it is clear that the TUV/Reform UK relationship is “non-existent”.

They added: “It is time that TUV stopped trying to fool the voters by using Reform UK branding and logos when it is clear that the leader of Reform UK is not supporting TUV.

“It’s time for TUV to drop the Reform UK branding.”

Mr Allister said: “TUV entered an electoral arrangement with Reform UK in good faith.

“We have kept faith with that agreement.

“The comments by Mr Farage today are, of course, disappointing and not compatible with the content of a conversation I had with him last week.”

Mr Allister added: “The endorsement that TUV seeks in this election is that of ordinary voters who know who has from the start told them the truth about the union-dismantling Protocol, while the DUP tried to hoodwink them with false claims that they had got rid of the Irish Sea border.”

A spokesperson for Reform UK said: “The Reform Party remains committed to our alliance with the TUV and candidates will be standing under our joint logo throughout Northern Ireland.

“Nigel Farage was giving a personal view in respect of two DUP candidates with whom he has worked closely in the past but he has not changed the policy and does not intend to do so.

“Reform remains a hundred percent committed to the union.”