MP Elliott rules out new leadership bid


MP Tom Elliott from the UUP

ONE OF the big stories of this election was the resignation of the Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt after almost five years in the post.
Mr Nesbitt took the decision after his party’s disappointing election performance that saw the loss of six seats, bring their Assembly representation to just ten members.  
UUP MP Tom Elliott held the leadership post for 18 months prior to Mr Nesbitt. Reacting to the news of his party leader’s departure, he told the Herald: “I didn’t see it coming at all but clearly he made some decisions during the election that were personally his and he had to stand over them. “He has fallen on his own sword and I’ve been there myself and I know that it’s a difficult decision to make especially in the immediate aftermath of an election that hasn’t gone well for you. He had good success in his tenure and the decision to go into Opposition in the Assembly was a positive one where he showed leadership by seeing that things weren’t working and trying to do something different.”
Asked about potential leadership candidates, including having another go himself, Mr Elliott replied: “I have nothing in mind. It won’t be me anyway.” 
Referring to his party’s overall election performance, Mr Elliott said: “It hasn’t been great. “We have to accept that it is not a positive result and we have lost some key people.”
Mr Elliott will now chair the party’s delegation for the forthcoming talks to restore devolution having been chosen after an emergency meeting of party officers on Saturday.
Newly elected MLA Rosemary Barton said she her party leader’s decision to quit had been “a total shock”.
“He has made his decision on his own but I look forward to working with him at Stormont as he carries on as an MLA.”
Ulster Unionist Cllr Alex Baird, a member of Mrs Barton’s election campaign team, also said he felt Mr Nesbitt had “done the honourable thing” by standing aside. 
“Clearly he feels that he hasn’t achieved what he wanted to achieve in this election. I didn’t expect him to go quickly but obviously that leaves a challenge for the party now to see who will take over as leader.”

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