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Farage endorsing DUP candidates Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson ‘on personal basis’

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage in Merthyr Tydfil while on the General Election campaign trail (Ben Birchall/PA)
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage in Merthyr Tydfil while on the General Election campaign trail (Ben Birchall/PA)

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has said he endorsed DUP candidates Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson “on a personal basis” and not in his capacity as party leader.

Mr Farage’s endorsement sparked confusion last week because of Reform UK’s alliance with Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), a rival unionist party to the DUP in Northern Ireland.

Reform UK’s co-deputy leader Ben Habib later insisted his party unequivocally backs TUV leader Jim Allister in the General Election.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister during the launch of the party's candidates for the Westminster elections at the Dunadry Hotel in Antrim in May
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister during the launch of the party’s candidates for the Westminster elections at the Dunadry Hotel in Antrim in May (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Allister is running as a candidate in North Antrim, where Mr Paisley is also running.

Mr Wilson is running in the East Antrim constituency, where the TUV candidate is Matthew Warwick.

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.

On Monday, Mr Farage told the PA news agency that he is endorsing Mr Paisley and Mr Wilson on a personal basis.

Asked if he would be endorsing DUP leader Gavin Robinson, Mr Farage said: “(Mr Paisley and Mr Wilson) are two friends of mine who I’ve endorsed previously, that’s a personal thing not a party thing.”

He added: “Ian Paisley, Sammy Wilson are friends of mine.

“I came into this party as leader very recently, after a different arrangement had been done.

“I didn’t do it as leader of Reform UK, I did it on a personal basis.”