Guernsey Press

Habib insists Reform is backing TUV despite Farage endorsing two DUP candidates

Nigel Farage said on Monday he was personally backing Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson of the DUP.


Reform UK’s co-deputy leader Ben Habib has insisted his party unequivocally backs Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister in the General Election – despite Nigel Farage endorsing a rival DUP candidate.

Mr Habib said his party leader Mr Farage had given his personal endorsement to Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson as they were “old beer buddies”.

Mr Paisley and Mr Allister are rival unionist candidates in North Antrim in the July 4 poll.

Mr Habib also said Mr Farage had a lot on his plate and had “not really thought through the party position”.

General Election campaign 2024
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage delivered his personal backing for two DUP candidates in an interview on Monday (James Manning/PA)

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.”

Speaking to the BBC Good Morning Ulster programme, Mr Habib denied that the situation was a mess.

He said: “The reality is that Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson are old beer buddies of Nigel’s.

“It is one buddy to another without having really thought through the party position.”

Mr Habib added: “Reform UK supports unequivocally Jim Allister.

“Ian Paisley and Sammy tapped him on the shoulder at a time when Nigel was obviously busy.

“Being friends he gave them his personal endorsement and that is the end of it.”

General Election campaign 2024
TUV leader Jim Allister is a candidate in North Antrim (Liam McBurney/PA)

The TUV 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.

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

DUP leadership
The DUP’s Ian Paisley is a candidate in the North Antrim constituency (Liam McBurney/PA)

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

“This is 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.”

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 are, of course, disappointing and not compatible with the content of a conversation I had with him last week.”

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