DUP cabinet offer reports '˜fake news': Donaldson

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has described press reports suggesting his party had been secretly offered a cabinet position by the Conservative Party's chief whip as 'fake news'.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson described the reports as 'nonsense'
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson described the reports as 'nonsense'

The Times newspaper carried a report on December 26 suggesting Tory MP Gavin Williamson, who was chief whip at the time of the talks between his party and the DUP in the aftermath of this year’s general election, had secretly offered a cabinet seat to the DUP.

The paper also reported that it was “understood” DUP MP Nigel Dodds had been lined up to replace Liam Fox as international trade secretary.

The article quotes a former senior official as having said: “One afternoon fairly early on Gavin came back and it became apparent that instead of agreeing a confidence and supply deal he was offering a full coalition with the DUP, including a full cabinet post.”

The former senior official also told The Times that Mr Williamson had gone “well beyond his mandate” in seeking a formal coalition, and that he was “told to take it back off the table pretty sharpish” by a “horrified” Theresa May.

Asked about the report by the News Letter, Lagan Valley MP Mr Donaldson said simply: “The story is nonsense. Fake news.”

The negotiations between the DUP and the Conservatives went on for almost two weeks, requiring the repeated postponement of a vote on the Queen’s speech before a confidence and supply deal was eventually agreed that sees the DUP support the Tories on certain issues.