Dobson plays down rumours

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ULSTER Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson has played down rumours linking her to a fight with party colleague Jim Nicholson for his seat on the European Parliament.

In recent weeks stories have appeared touting the Upper Bann MLA as the new deputy leader of the UUP and suggesting she was to do battle with Nicholson for his European seat.

She told the ‘MAIL’ she had no intention of running as an MEP, but chose not to comment on the deputy leader rumours.

She said: “These rumours certainly haven’t come from my direction.

“There’s a couple of reasons why I may have been linked with the MEP role.

“Firstly, I am the Agricultural spokesperson and agriculture is an area where Jim Nicholson does exceptionally good work.

“Secondly, I used to work for Jim Nicholson. I managed his European Office in Belfast and was campaign manager for his European Election campaign in 2009.

“I wouldn’t be going against him for the European Parliament. I’ll be supporting him 100%.

“I’m happy in my constituency, that’s where my focus is.”

As for the rumours about becoming deputy leader, she preferred not to comment.

This week Jo-Anne Dobson became private secretary to Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy. She is also on the education committee.

Since becoming an MLA the Waringstown woman has experienced a meteoric rise and has been described as the UUP’s golden girl.

She said: “I suppose it’s quite flattering. If it encourages other women to get into politics then it’s a good thing.”