The East Antrim MLA said: “The Ulster Unionists want to be with the Tories, but I cannot see why the Tories would want to be with them. The previous relationship ended in tears in the 1970s when petty unionism was more important to the UUP than any Westminster role. It’s difficult to see how things are any different now. People will also not forget Margaret Thatcher’s treatment of Northern Ireland.
“The UUP has lost its way because it is committed to being the poor relation in a failing Executive. It is desperately scrabbling around to find a role for itself. Its representatives are trying to prove that the party is still relevant in this new political dispensation.
“The Ulster Unionists are sending out mixed messages with plans for this link-up. What people really want to see is action from the Executive parties and the UUP is currently not delivering this.”