Doug Beattie includes Mike Nesbitt and John Stewart in UUP spokespeople changes

UUP leader Doug Beattie has made a number key appointments within his party in his latest internal leadership move.

On Tuesday, Mr Beattie announced a number of changes to his spokespeople with Mike Nesbitt MLA taking on the role of Economy spokesperson while John Stewart will become Vice-Chair of The Executive Office Committee. 

It comes a day after Mr Beattie revealed he has appointed Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler as UUP deputy leader.

East Belfast MLA Andy Allen, a former soldier, has been given the role of deputy chief whip.

According to a UUP spokesperson the deputy chief whip position had been held by East Antrim MLA John Stewart.

Mr Beattie previously held the role of deputy leader.

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Mr Beattie said: “I am serious about the Ulster Unionist Party challenging the status quo and making Northern Ireland better, so I am making a couple of changes to my Assembly team spokespeople to make sure I have the right people in the right place.

“John is a forward thinking, articulate voice who can look at a problem, analyse it and create solutions. Mike is exceptional in his politics, exceptional in his communication and exceptional in how he looks at a problem and how it affects people.”

Mr Nesbitt, a former party leader who represents Strangford, said he was very pleased to accept the challenge.

“My theme will be a Prosperity Agenda – where all our citizens wake up with a sense of purpose in their lives, a worthwhile job to be done and an assurance the Economy Minister has their back,” he added. 

“If people end the week with a few extra pounds in their back pocket, if they’re enjoying good mental health and wellbeing and if they feel they have an equal shot at success as the next person, then we use our economy to transform our society.

“What I discovered last time I held this post was a strong sense that the business community felt they were not being listened to and properly consulted. I do not imagine much has changed in the last decade, so my priority will be to listen. I believe very strongly the first step to economic success is to listen to those who walk the walk in terms of running successful businesses.”

Mr Stewart, MLA for East Antrim, said he looked forward to holding the First and deputy First Ministers to account in his new scrutiny role. 

“There are a number of high level strategies that need to be agreed before the end of this mandate and I look forward to playing a role in driving this forward,” he added. 

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