Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey Donaldson replaces Nigel Dodds as DUP's Westminster leader

Sammy Wilson elected Chief Whip

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson speaks in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Photo credit: House of Commons/PA Wire
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson speaks in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Photo credit: House of Commons/PA Wire
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has been elected as the DUP's new Westminster leader replacing the outgoing Nigel Dodds.

Mr Dodds lost the North Belfast seat he had held since 2001 to Sinn Fein's John Finucane in last week's election.

Sir Jeffrey was elected by the DUP MPs in the Commons.

He will be replaced by East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson as the party's Chief Whip.

After his election Sir Jeffrey paid tribute to Mr Dodds.

“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," the Lagan Valley MP said.

"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.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster congratulated Sir Jeffrey and Mr Wilson on their new 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," she said.

A disconsolate Nigel Dodds in the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast after he lost his seat in North Belfast
A disconsolate Nigel Dodds in the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast after he lost his seat in North Belfast

"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.”

The General Election has seen the DUP reduced to a team of eight MPs from ten, with Emma Little Pengelly losing the South Belfast seat to the SDLP's Claire Hanna.

The party also failed to win North Down, vacated by the retirement of independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon. DUP candidate Alex Easton was beaten by the Alliance Party's Stephen Farry.

The DUP's influence is also likely to be massively reduced as they will no longer have a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Conservative Government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson can command a majority of 80 MPs and will no longer rely on the DUP for support to pass legislation.

His relationship with party remains fractious with his Brexit withdrawal agreement set to create a trade border in the Irish Sea.

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