Jim Wells: I have a vote! - DUP decides MLA can vote in leadership race between Edwin Poots and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Prominent MLA Jim Wells has confirmed he can vote in what observers think could be a close race to find the next leader of the DUP.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 11:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 7:19 pm

Rival camps in the party have weighed in behind two DUP Lagan Valley representatives, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

There has been rising speculation that the vote of South Down MLA Jim Wells - a long serving DUP member who is currently without the party whip - might play an important role.

However questions arose today as to whether he will be allowed to vote.

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Jim Wells, MLA.

Howeve this evening he confirmed his party had made a decision on the matter: “I have a vote,” he said.

Mr Wells said this morning: “The Party rules state that in order to have a vote I must a) Be a party member, which I am currently and have been for 46 years, and b) Be a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly which I have been for 27 years.

“There is no mention of an exclusion for a lost, lonely (but very happy) backbencher wandering in the political wilderness without the whip. The party officers will make a final decision on my status this morning but the rules are conclusive.”

Mr Wells has already voiced his support for Edwin Poots to lead the party.

The MLA told the News Letter that contrary to speculation, he has not been gagged by the DUP at this time.

He added that he has voluntarily decided to step back from media comment at this time and direct any comments that he has to make through Edwin Poot’s campaign team.

The DUP has been invited to comment. Party officers are to meet today to discuss how the first leadership contest in the history of the party will be conducted.

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