No comment from Edwin Poots on emergence of Jeffrey Donaldson as rival for DUP leadership

By last night Edwin Poots had not yet publicly commented on the decision of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to stand against him for DUP party leader.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 8:00 am
Edwin Poots MLA, one of the two candidates for leader of the DUP. The other is Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Sir Jeffrey’s decision means the two Lagan Valley constituency association members will be going head-to-head in an attempt to secure the vote of the majority of the party’s 35 MPs and MLAs.

Mr Poots, the current agriculture minister at Stormont, already a significant number of elected representatives backing his leadership bid.

On Twitter, a number of MLAs and one MP (Paul Girvan/South Antrim) have posted video messages of support for Mr Poots, including North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey, Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley, North Antrim MLA Paul Frew and South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford

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Having circulated the videos on social media, Mr Poots later tweeted his own 22-second video clip, in which he referred to having “been so greatly encouraged by the numbers that have came [sic] forward in support of me”.

He said his party colleges were endorsing his “vision for the people of Northern Ireland” – a vision which has not yet been publicly shared.

Jonathan Buckley said he had seen how Mr Poots had encouraged young people to get into politics and that “now is a time for unionists to find a figure that they can unite behind”.

It is understood that DUP party officers will not meet until Tuesday to discuss the procedure, and timetable, for the leadership election process.

Paul Frew said: “Edwin and I have had long conversations about the changing face of politics and the challenges that lie ahead. Edwin gets it when I talk about reform.”

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