MP criticises claims Jeffrey Donaldson considered UUP switch

Mp Criticises Claims Jeffrey Donaldson Considered Uup Switch
East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson has branded the claims as 'nonsense'. Photo: PA Images
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By Dominic McGrath, PA

A DUP MP has branded as “nonsense” claims that Jeffrey Donaldson contemplated rejoining the Ulster Unionists after failing in his initial bid to lead the party.

Earlier this week, DUP leader Mr Donaldson said he would make no apology for engaging with other unionists.


Mr Donaldson was addressing claims he was involved in discussions with Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie about potentially joining his party in May 2021 following his defeat in a DUP leadership contest.

The Lagan Valley MP, who weeks later ultimately became DUP leader when Edwin Poots was ousted after less than a month at the helm, has said he was approached by the UUP on the issue but insists he never had any intention of rejoining a party he left in 2003.

He has portrayed the exchange with the UUP as more of a conversation on achieving greater co-operation among unionists in Northern Ireland.

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said on Sunday that he first became aware of the story earlier this week.


Nigel Dodds, Gavin Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson together in London earlier this year (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He called it “nonsense news” and said it should not be a surprise that one unionist leader would sit down with another.

“This is irrelevant, historical tittle-tattle,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme.


He said unionism was more concerned about the upcoming crucial Assembly election.

“There is no public conversation about this whatsoever. The public could not give a toot.

“They want to see unionists working together … They are not delving back into tittle-tattle from 12 months ago.”

He admitted that last year was an “uncomfortable time” for his party, which faced serious internal divisions amid the ill-fated and short-lived period of the leadership of Mr Poots.


He categorically rejected suggestions that Mr Donaldson contemplated forming a breakaway unionist party, fuelled by his failure to secure the DUP leadership at the first time of asking.

“This is a nonsense.

“People want to see a strong unionist support at this forthcoming election.”

The public, he said, was not interested in “revisionism” and he criticised reporting based on “anonymous sources”.


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