Alliance leader Naomi Long to stand in general election

Home Politics Alliance leader Naomi Long to stand in general election
Alliance leader Naomi Long to stand in general election

Jayne McCormack,BBC News NI political correspondent

Getty Images Naomi LongGetty Images

Mrs Long previously held the seat from 2010 until 2015

Alliance leader Naomi Long is to stand as a candidate in the Belfast East constituency in the general election.

Mrs Long previously held the seat from 2010 until 2015, when the DUP’s Gavin Robinson won it.

Mr Robinson, now interim DUP leader, retained the seat when Mrs Long challenged him for it in the 2019 election.

The party has said she will remain as Stormont’s justice minister during this campaign.

She will be the only minister in the executive to run for election while retaining a portfolio at Stormont.

The Ulster Unionists have opted to replace Robin Swann as health minister while he campaigns for the South Antrim seat, while there are no Sinn Féin or DUP ministers running for election.

‘A real opportunity’

The Alliance leader said with big issues such as financial and political stability of the assembly expected to dominate the local political agenda at Westminster in the next Parliament, it was important more Alliance MPs are elected to shape the debate.

“Alliance has a real opportunity to return several MPs and send a message that as a society we are moving forward beyond traditional divides to seek the best outcomes for everyone,” she added.

Alliance has one seat at Westminster after it won the North Down seat for the first time in 2019, with Stephen Farry running to retain it in the 4 July election.

A full list of candidates standing in all 18 constituencies will be available on BBC News NI after nominations close on 7 June.

Analysis: East Belfast set for showdown on election night

Two party leaders, one seat and a battle that’s as personal as it is political.

When Gavin Robinson won back the seat Naomi Long had taken from the DUP in 2010 he declared it “a new dawn”.

But come the dawn of 5 July could we be looking at Naomi Long’s return to Westminster?

Five years ago she came within 2,000 votes of Gavin Robinson’s majority.

Back then the TUV didn’t run a candidate, which makes the prospect of doing so this time all the more dramatic.

If Gavin Robinson didn’t already have a tough enough job steering his party into the election, the DUP leader now faces the biggest fight of his political life to keep the seat.

But Alliance will face plenty of criticism from its opponents for keeping Naomi Long in the justice minister job while she campaigns for Westminster.

Other parties make the case that running a campaign means a lack of focus on the day job.

Not to mention that if Alliance goes on to win Belfast East and retains North Down, both its leader and deputy leader will be based at Westminster, not Stormont – that alone could bring its own internal challenges.

Get the popcorn ready because this is going to be the showdown of election night.

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