Sir Jeffrey Donaldson named DUP leader following Edwin Poots resignation

22 June 2021, 14:14

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the longest serving MP in Northern Ireland.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the longest serving MP in Northern Ireland. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has been named as the next leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), becoming the third person to take on the role in a matter of weeks.

The MP is taking over from Edwin Poots, who resigned following an internal revolt when he went ahead with the nomination of Paul Givan as Stormont First Minister. He only replaced previous leader Arlene Foster in May.

Sir Jeffrey is Northern Ireland’s longest serving MP and was the only candidate to replace Mr Poots.

In a statement, the new leader said: "The Northern Ireland Assembly is the place where every element of our society is represented.

"The coalition government is unwieldy, but it ensures every voice is heard.

"Such partnership is how we should move forward. It must be based on respect for each other's mandate.

"To that end, I will be speaking with the Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity to emphasise that it is not realistic to expect stability when every unionist representative in the devolved institutions opposes the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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"The Government and those who claim to be protectors of peace and stability, must step up and deal with the Protocol in a manner which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.

"I want to bring stability and encourage everyone to focus on what unites us as a people rather than on what divides us.

"There has been too much focus on division and recrimination both within unionism and within Northern Ireland.

"I will play my part but the Government and Brussels must step up and recognise the flaws of the Protocol and how it was foisted upon Northern Ireland."

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis tweeted: "I look forward to continuing to work with him and the whole Northern Ireland Executive, ensuring we deliver on the shared interests of all the people of Northern Ireland."