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Jeffrey Donaldson endorsed as new DUP leader

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Jeffrey Donaldson is a highly trusted member of the British establishment with deep links to the Royal Family and the Queen

As universally expected Jeffrey Donaldson has been endorsed as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a political formality before his leadership is officially confirmed.

The endorsement by the DUP’s Electoral College was a foregone conclusion as Donaldson was the only candidate to apply for the leadership position.

Donaldson received the backing of 32 out of 36 votes from DUP assembly members and MPs.

His leadership is expected to be formally ratified at a meeting of the DUP executive next week. 

Donaldson will be taking over the reins of the DUP at the most turbulent period in the party’s 50-year history.

The party has been deeply destabilized since April when Arlene Foster was overthrown and replaced by Edwin Poots, who only lasted 21 days on the job.

Donaldson becomes the party’s third leader in just 50 days and its fifth since the DUP’s foundation in 1971.

Who is Jeffrey Donaldson? 

Donaldson started his political career as a constituency agent for the notoriously racist Enoch Powell, who was an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP for the South Down constituency from 1974 to 1987.  

In 2003 Donaldson left the UUP to join the DUP on account of his opposition to the Good Friday Agreement and the leadership of David Trimble.

However, he kept his position as MP for the Lagan Valley constituency in the House of Commons, a position he gained in the 1997 UK general election.   

A longstanding member of the Orange Order, Donaldson also served as a corporal in the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR) – a notorious infantry regiment in the British Army that routinely harassed and targeted the Republican community – at the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland. 

Donaldson was appointed to the Privy Council – a body which advises the monarchy – in 2007 and just nine years later was awarded a knighthood by the Queen for political service.

After his endorsement by the Electoral College, Donaldson reaffirmed his hardcore unionist positions by saying his priority as party leader “will be to right the wrong that has been done by the imposition of this [Northern Ireland] Protocol”.

Donaldson also attacked the Irish government on account of its alleged “cheerleading” for the protocol.  

The Northern Ireland Protocol is an integral part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement whose central aim is to maintain an open land border between British-controlled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with a view to safeguarding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

However, in practice the protocol has placed a de facto border in the Irish Sea, thus potentially undermining Northern Ireland’s ties to the UK.

 

 

 

 

 


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