Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Brexiteer Arron Banks backs DUP's Ian Paisley election funding campaign

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

By Mark McConville

DUP MP Ian Paisley has set up a fundraising page for the election campaign, which has been promoted by leading Brexiteer Arron Banks.

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The crowdfunding page has raised just £511 of its £5,000 target with 25 days left to pledge support.

On the page Mr Paisley says he is looking for as much support as possible to “get re-elected to Parliament, to serve the people and deliver a true Brexit for the UK.”

Mr Banks’ Leave.EU organisation promoted the crowd-funding page on Wednesday, calling Mr Paisley a Brexiteer who has been “fighting for Brexit and for our Union for years in Parliament” and urging the public to back his re-election.

Mr Paisley confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph the fundraiser was his but said it had been open for a year.

It is understood Mr Paisley has been seen canvassing in his constituency with other DUP members and will be running for the party in what is seen as one of the safest seats in Northern Ireland.

Mr Banks is the controversial businessman who heavily funded the Leave campaign for the Brexit referendum. He backed Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal which the DUP has opposed.

Mr Paisley spoke at a rally in Westminster in October arranged by Leave EU who also back Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Meanwhile, it has emerged the DUP does not have enough members in the Upper Bann constituency to decide on who to replace outgoing MP David Simpson who announced he will not contest his seat for the General Election.

Under the DUP party rules selection of a candidate is conducted by constituency associations who have more than 40 paid up full members on September 1 preceding the selection meeting.

As Upper Bann does not meet this threshold the party hierarchy will instead make the decision.

Carla Lockhart, an MLA in the area, is believed to be the frontrunner. She topped the poll in 2016 when she was first elected to Stormont before increasing her vote to again top the poll in 2017.

Another candidate believed to have a strong chance is fellow MLA Jonny Buckley, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2017. Mr Buckley has never actually spoken in the chamber due to the continued absence of a functioning Assembly.

MEP Diane Dodds, who lives in Banbridge in the constituency, is also rumoured to be interested in the role. Ms Dodds will lose her MEP role in January should the UK leave the EU at the end of the month.

The DUP have been contacted for a comment about Mr Paisley’s crowdfunding page.

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