Dr Stephen Farry stated: “After wandering in the wilderness looking for a new identity, and alliances from the UVF-linked PUP to the SDLP, Reg Empey’s Ulster Unionists have now formed two electoral pacts in the past few weeks, one with Jim Allister’s TUV and the other with David Cameron’s Conservatives.
“For the UUP, I can understand the attractions of this latest move. But, they may have a difficult task in rationalising this to their voters who do not endorse a right-wing approach to social, economic and environmental issues.
“For the Conservatives, this seems a truly bizarre move. David Cameron was supposedly trying to modernise his party into a progressive force, fit for government.
“Through this pact, he has linked his party to identity politics and tribal headcounts rather than dealing with the issues and building a modern, shared society.
“In particular, the Conservatives become part of the same electoral pact for the European Election as Jim Allister. This pact has turned the European Election not into a contest about how best to secure Northern Ireland’s interests in Europe, but a sectarian headcount. The Conservatives are now signed up to a message that what matters above all else is that unionists are returned in elections irrespective of the issues.
“I welcome a Conservative presence in local politics. But they should be prepared to stand on their own two feet.
“Many will be baffled, in Northern Ireland and across the rest of UK, by this move from the Conservatives.”