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Peter Robinson wins backing from DUP MLAs

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Peter Robinson has received unanimous backing from Democratic Unionist members

Peter Robinson has received unanimous backing from Democratic Unionist members

Peter Robinson has received unanimous backing from Democratic Unionist members

Peter Robinson has received unanimous backing from Democratic Unionist members of the Northern Ireland Assembly following the loss of his East Belfast Westminster seat.

The DUP leader will stay on as First Minister and was even given a round of applause following a meeting with Stormont colleagues this morning.

He lost the seat he had held for 31 years and Alliance Party deputy leader Naomi Long was elected as the new MP for East Belfast during last week's general election.

A DUP Assembly group statement said: "DUP Assembly members stand four-square behind our party leader, Peter Robinson. Peter is the architect of the party's remarkable victory in the general election. Peter Robinson's strategic vision and strong leadership is reflected in the renewed and strengthened mandate the DUP has received from the unionist electorate."

The DUP won eight seats at Westminster and its vote was barely dented by the challenge from the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice and rival Conservatives and Unionists.

Mr Robinson's personal tally plunged after revelations about his parliamentary expense claims for food and an expensive briefcase, as well as a £5 land deal near his home.

The DUP statement added: "Peter Robinson is the foremost strategist within unionist politics and he has shown true leadership as the First Minister of Northern Ireland. He retains the full support of his friends and colleagues as we continue our project to keep Northern Ireland moving forward."

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The Conservatives and Unionists failed to win a single seat and Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey is engaged in talks which will decide his future.

He lost to sitting MP William McCrea of the DUP in South Antrim and Lady Sylvia Hermon won a landslide in North Down after leaving the party over its Conservatives link.

On election night, senior UUP member David McNarry said Sir Reg was finished as party leader.


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