I submitted my papers yesterday, and can confirm I am now officially the Conservatives and Unionists candidate for South Belfast.
I really am looking forward to a campaign based on issues, and I note that the DUP alone stand outside such a campaign.
I have been on the doorsteps for weeks now, in campaign with the Alliance Party, the SDLP and the Green Party which has been based solely on the issues which count at this election - taxation, welfare and pensions. I am looking forward to continuing that debate over the coming two weeks or so.
The DUP and Sinn Fein alone have, uniquely, has stood apart from that debate, instead trying to base its campaign on narrow, sectarian interests. The DUP is the only party delivering a ‘split’ - splitting Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK by attempting to deprive us, uniquely in our country, of a full role in UK affairs. The DUP will have to explain why it is seeking to deprive us of the type of British political debate which would be taken for granted in every other part of the UK.
The DUP has already admitted that it cannot win the seat, otherwise it would not have put so much effort into campaigning for a ‘Unionist Unity’ candidate. Nevertheless, the challenge now is for the DUP to engage in the same debate that the rest of us have been engaged in - on issues, not identity.
I have been clear all along that I believe I can win the seat, without any such pacts, by engaging with the people of South Belfast on the issues which matter to them, and on the issues on which we have a real voice at Westminster.