Donaldson sends documents to DUP colleagues outlining leadership pitch

By David Young, PA

DUP leadership contender Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has circulated documents to the party’s electoral college making his pitch for their support.

The PA news agency understands two documents have been sent to the MLAs and MPs who will decide who succeeds Arlene Foster next Friday.

Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey is vying for the leadership with Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots.

It is understood the first document circulated by Sir Jeffrey outlines his plans for internal change within the DUP.

In it, he offers a vision for the party entitled “re-engage, reform and recruit” .

In the other document, the party’s current Westminster leader sets out the qualities and experience he believes makes him best placed to take the job.

It is understood Sir Jeffrey will circulate a further document to party colleagues outlining his wider policy plans next week.

Earlier in the week, Mr Poots sent a four-page leadership manifesto to party colleagues.

He also focused heavily on an internal programme of reform within the party.

On policy issues, Mr Poots vowed to establish a unionist convention and think tank to maximise support for the pro-Union position and said he would lead a campaign against Brexit’s “undemocratic” Northern Ireland Protocol.

The leadership will be decided by the party’s 28 MLAs and eight MPs in a secret ballot on Friday.

The internal pitches for support from the candidates come after the DUP shut down any public campaign activity in the contest.

The party is preventing candidates and other DUP politicians from speaking publicly about the race, insisting the leadership should remain an internal matter.

Mrs Foster resigned last week after an internal revolt against her leadership.

The move came in the form of a letter of no confidence signed by a majority of the party’s senior elected representatives.

The outgoing DUP leader will step down from that role on May 28, and as Stormont First Minister at the end of June. 

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