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TUV leader vows to run anti-protocol candidates across Northern Ireland

THE LEADER of the far-right Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party has vowed to run anti-protocol candidates across every constituency in Northern Ireland.

But Jim Allister refused to say whether he believes the move will risk splitting the unionist vote in the province.

Last month, the TUV struck an electoral partnership with Britain’s hard right Reform UK party that will see them run agreed candidates in Northern Ireland.

A memorandum of understanding between the parties was announced when Reform leader Richard Tice attended the TUV conference in Co Antrim in March.

The TUV is a vocal opponent of the post-Brexit trading arrangements that have created economic barriers on the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Asked whether it is his intention to run anti-protocol candidates from either his party or Reform in each of the 18 constituencies at the next general election, Mr Allister said it “certainly is the aspirational intention.”

“We haven’t named 18 candidates but yes, I said that it was our intention to seek to do that,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Northern Ireland show.

Mr Allister said that people who are “discomfited by” Brexit’s contentious Northern Ireland Protocol are entitled to have their say.

Running anti-protocol candidates in constituencies such as Lagan Valley and East Belfast could threaten DUP seats.

“If the greater number of unionists reject this Donaldson deal, then it’s dead in the water, and that’s the opportunity they’ll be given, and why shouldn’t they be,” Mr Allister added.

“Democracy is about letting the people decide. The people may well decide that there’s not much difference between a protocol-implementer, if they are a protocol-implementer no matter what flag they fly.”

Asked if he will stand in the next general election, Mr Allister said we will “have to wait and see.”

“There is a time and a place for these declarations and that time and that place will come,” he said.

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