Strangford: Jim Shannon calls for unionists to stand under the one banner

Former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt secures just 4,419 votes


Democratic Unionist Jim Shannon celebrated his phenomenal majority in Strangford by saying it was time to consider all unionists standing under the one banner.

With a margin of victory of close to 20,000 votes, on Friday morning, the former soldier said: “I think the people of Strangford would like to see one unionist party. Maybe it’s just time that we looked towards how we could make that happen. Where unionism could be served better by one party representing them all.

“That’d be a bigger threat to those who want to destroy the union, but I think it encourages our people. I think that’s something I’d like to see develop.”

One of Mr Shannon’s nearest rivals, former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, secured just 4,419 votes in the Strangford constituency.

“It’s mission impossible to try to close a five-figure gap in one campaign,” he said.

Mr Nesbitt appeared to scotch Mr Shannon’s suggestion of unifying unionist parties, adding: “I was happy to put my name forward in this constituency because it’s important that Ulster Unionists have an Ulster Unionist to vote for.”

And on the DUP’s strong performance overall, he added: “It is what every local party in Northern Ireland hopes for, that they hold the balance of power and therefore have some degree of clout.”

Recent Westminster elections

2010 – Jim Shannon (DUP) defeated UCU’s Mike Nesbitt (14,926 votes to 9,050).

2015 – Mr Shannon beat UUP’s Robert Burgess (15,053 to 4,868).