18/12/2019

DUP Selects New Westminster Leader

The DUP has selected Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as its new leader in Westminster.

He will replace the outgoing Nigel Dodds, who lost the North Belfast seat to Sinn Fein's John Finucane in last week's General Election. Mr Dodds had held his seat since 2001.

Former Chief Whip for the Democratic Unionists Mr Donaldson was selected by the DUP MPs in the Commons. He will be replaced by East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson in the role.

Following a meeting of the DUP Parliamentary Party in Westminster, Sir Jeffrey paid tribute to Mr Dodds. He said: "The DUP Parliamentary Party has been very ably led by Nigel Dodds over recent years. As someone who commanded respect right across the House of Commons he will be missed not just by DUP MPs but across all parties.
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"I am delighted to have been elected by my colleagues as leader of our Parliamentary team. The initial focus of this Parliament will undoubtedly be Brexit and the Prime Minister's withdrawal deal. We will continue to seek change to that deal and work with the Government to deliver on their promise that Northern Ireland's economic and constitutional integrity will be protected as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union."

Party leader Arlene Foster added: "I congratulate both Sir Jeffrey and Sammy on being elected to their respective positions.

"Northern Ireland needs a strong team of MPs at Westminster, but to deliver fully for all our citizens I want to see a functioning Assembly and Executive working alongside our representatives in Parliament. The DUP will continue to focus on the issues which matter to all our citizens both in Westminster and at the Assembly. We want to get Northern Ireland moving again with decisions taken on our schools and hospitals."

Northern Ireland's representation at Westminster changed considerably at last week's election, with the DUP returning to the green benches with two fewer seats than before.

Sir Jeffrey now leads a team of eight, while Alliance's Stephen Ferry represents North Down, and SDLP MPs Colum Eastwood and Claire Hanna take the seats for Foyle and South Belfast. Abstentionists Sinn Fein maintained their total of seven seats.



(JG/CM)

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