Northern Ireland

Unionist merger 'could happen in future' says Jeffrey Donaldson

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJeffrey Donaldson said he would like to see the two unionist parties work more closely together

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson has said a merger of his party and the Ulster Unionists could happen in the future.

Northern Ireland's two biggest unionist parties have agreed a general election pact in four constituencies, including the UK's most tightly contested seat.

Mr Donaldson was asked on the BBC Daily Politics why the two parties did not just merge in light of the pact.

"Maybe that will happen one day," Mr Donaldson replied.

"As a former member of the Ulster Unionists and current member of the DUP of course I would like to see unionism working more closely together."

The deal between the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party means there will be a single candidate from the two parties.

The DUP will step aside in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and Newry and Armagh. The UUP will step aside in East Belfast and North Belfast.

Mr Donaldson defended the pact: "Don't forget Sinn Féin abstain from parliament and that reduces Northern Ireland's influences.

"What we want to do and there is an opportunity here with the prospect of a hung parliament to maximise Northern Ireland's influence so it makes sense where there is the potential for a single unionist candidate to win a seat back from Sinn Féin and put some into the House if Commons who will be a voice for that constituency, well then that's worth doing."

More on this story