McGimpsey's comments yesterday on the Nolan Show where interpreted this morning by Nolan as a threat to resign. As this blog has charted the UUP have been all over the place on the issue of health spending. McGimpsey has ploughed his own furrow on the health budget. How much support he got from the UUP changed from day to day or who'd been asked. If McGimpsey has continued in doing what he wants rather than an agreed party approach then this threat leaves poor Tom Elliott with another hand grenade in his lap.
However, beyond the budget is McGimpsey on political manoeuvres? Sam McBride in the News Letter recently chronicled the febrile internal state of the Ulster Unionist Party with it fearful of what will happen to it at the Assembly polls. Tom Elliott has not succeeded in steadying the ship (although that is as much the fault if not more of others in the UUP). The debate about whether it should stay in or out of the Executive continues to rumble on with no conclusion in sight. If the UUP fears come to fruition and it does have a poor election what would its future direction be and under whom?
Basil McCrea's defeat in the leadership election was two fold. He lost but he also damaged himself with his own supporters that he is not considered a future option either. So if a leadership vacancy arose who would step into the a possible breach?
McGimpsey delivered a crowd pleaser of a speech to the party conference. He has enough a sufficient liberal track record to please some but sufficiently dialed down in the past few years that it wouldn't scare the conservative horses now. He ticks the box for visceral dislike of the DUP. A dramatic pre-election resignation would increase his profile. It would also be a easy set up for him to then lead the UUP into opposition post-election.