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Doug Beattie insists DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson did meet about switching to Ulster Unionists

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DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and UUP leader Doug Beattie at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Doug Beattie has said he is in no doubt that talks with the DUP leader were about Sir Jeffrey Donaldson joining the party – and he has evidence to prove it.

Mr Beattie broke his silence over claims he met with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to discuss him joining the Ulster Unionists.The claims were last week denied by the Lagan Valley MP who said he hadn’t considered switching sides and that the meeting with Mr Beattie had been about the future of unionism.

In an interview on the BBC Stephen Nolan radio programme, Mr Beattie said: “The conversation was about him wanting to join the Ulster Unionist Party, and as part of that we talked about why and what we can do to improve unionism.” 

Mr Beattie also warned that if anyone questions his version of his events, he would publish WhatsApp messages ahead of the Assembly election in May. “If anybody is going out there to say Doug Beattie is a liar then I will produce the proof to prove that I am not lying,” he said. 

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Before last year's meeting, Mr Beattie said he had approached Sir Jeffrey after speculation he was unhappy with the DUP after losing the leadership contest to Edwin Poots.

He said someone close to Sir Jeffrey had told him it would be a good time to “reach in” and start a conversation.

Mr Beattie said he initially sent Sir Jeffrey a WhatsApp message to Sir Jeffrey to hold a meeting.

He said the text in early June had broadly asked if Sir Jeffrey had wanted to talk about joining the UUP.

Asked how Sir Jeffrey responded, Mr Beattie said the response was private but led to arranging a date and time for a meeting.

Sir Jeffrey has described claims he intended to join the UUP were “nonsense”.

Mr Beattie said: “Jeffrey may well have met me and not had an intention, that’s not what I took from it. 

"We can play with words in whatever way we want to play with words.

"I would not be speaking about this now if the DUP had not said that I had put an offer out to Sir Jeffrey.”

He added: “But I have to respond to this, and my response is yes indeed.. I was the person who initiated to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to ask him did he want to come and have a chat because I would welcome him back into the Ulster Unionist Party.

"He did not say no, and we met up and discussed it. He was engaging with me about the possibilities of joining the party.”

When asked about the DUP’s claim that the meeting was a wider conversation about the future of unionism, Mr Beattie said the conversation had been about promoting unionism through the vehicle of the UUP.

"There was no conversation either (about) parties joining together or parties working together or forming a new party.

"There was nothing like that, this was about my messaging, what I was saying as an Ulster Unionist.”

Mr Beattie said at the end of the meeting, which took place at a “private location”, there was no agreement on whether Sir Jeffrey would or wouldn’t join the UUP.


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