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Sammy Wilson backs Sir Jeffrey’s leadership

PoliticsSammy Wilson backs Sir Jeffrey's leadership

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Speaking on UTV’s View From Stormont, the East Antrim MP also defended the work his leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has done – and said there was no dispute in the party over the leadership.

Mr Wilson also confirmed that he would put his name forward for the next general election.

Echoing comments he made in yesterday’s News Letter, Mr Wilson said the decisions the DUP leader took were not the decisions he would have made – and said it was his duty to be honest with him.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson recently stepped down as his party’s chief whip at Westminster.DUP MP Sammy Wilson recently stepped down as his party’s chief whip at Westminster.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson recently stepped down as his party’s chief whip at Westminster.

“Of course he [Sir Jeffrey] has my backing. First of all I voted for him as party leader. Secondly, I respect the dedication that he has given to that job. Dedication which many other people wouldn’t give. Long hours, going to speak to small meetings, big meetings, individuals – and trying to calm things after a difficult period that we had. Entered into negotiations which were not easy. I believe that a lot of what we are facing at present is not because of failings in Jeffrey Donaldson, but failings in a government which shamelessly has betrayed Northern Ireland”.

When it was put to him by Paul Clarke that there appeared to be a major rupture in the party over the deal, Sammy Wilson said: “We are not a party of robots. We are not a party of clones. There were fundamental issues involved in all of this deal and I think it would have been far far more surprising – you would have had harder questions to ask – if we’d all simply fallen into line and said ‘we all agree’. You would have asked ‘where are your critical faculties?’ Especially when you see some of the gaps which are still in these arrangements and which I believe do detriment and do damage to Northern Ireland”.

He said that some of the analysis that Jim Allister has made of the DUP deal is “no different from the analysis I have made of the deal. Indeed Jeffrey Donaldson said he didn’t get everything he wanted”.

He said the theme of unionism at the next election would be “treat us the same as the rest of the United Kingdom”. This analysis is not shared by many in the party leadership who argue that Northern Ireland has always been a place apart and can – and often should – have different arrangements on a number of areas from the rest of the UK.

Asked if trusted Jeffrey Donaldson to deliver he said: “I do trust Jeffrey to keep on working at the job which he has said he needs to get done”.

In yesterday’s News Letter Mr Wilson said that a poisonous atmosphere has been created at meetings opposing his party’s deal on the Irish Sea border – and although he wouldn’t have made the same choices as Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, he won’t lend credence to the idea that his leader is a “treacherous sell-out merchant”. He also said that the fight over the Irish Sea border has to be had within the DUP – as he warned against further splits within unionism.

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