Northern Ireland

Nigel Farage endorses DUP’s Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson despite TUV alliance

Nigel Farage says Reform UK will become the ‘real opposition’ to Labour
Nigel Farage has endorsed two DUP candidates despite his party's arrangement with the TUV (Yui Mok/PA)

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 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.”

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

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.

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

On Monday, Mr Allister said his party had “entered an electoral arrangement with Reform UK in good faith”.

“We have kept faith with that agreement,” he said.

“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.

“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.”

However, in a statement on Monday evening, a Reform spokesperson 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.”