Gavin Robinson says he will ‘continue Irish Sea border fight’ as he’s ratified as DUP leader

Robinson has been serving as interim leader since early April when Jeffrey Donaldson resigned

Gavin Robinson has pledged to “continue to fight” against an Irish Sea border after being ratified as DUP leader.

Mr Robinson has been serving as interim leader since early April when Jeffrey Donaldson resigned from the DUP after being charged with historical sexual offences.

Mr Robinson was “unanimously” ratified as the party’s leader at a meeting of the party’s ruling executive on Wednesday.

“It is with honour, humility and commitment that I look forward to leading our party into the future,” he said.

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In an address to party members in Lisburn, he said that the post-Brexit protocol was “imposed over the heads” of the people of Northern Ireland and “without support” from any elected unionist representative.

“It wrecked the settled political balance within Northern Ireland and led directly to a loss of unionist confidence.”

The DUP ended its two-year boycott of devolved government in Northern Ireland in February after striking a deal with the British government on post-Brexit arrangements.

Donaldson made the decision to return his party to Stormont based on a package of proposals aimed at reducing red tape on Irish Sea trade and providing assurances over Northern Ireland’s place in the union.

However, a significant minority of DUP elected representatives remain opposed to the deal, insisting it does not go far enough to remove the contentious “Irish Sea border”.

While outlining his vision for the party, Mr Robinson criticised the Tories for inflicting what he said was “some of the greatest harm” on Northern Ireland.

He said that the decision to return to Stormont was made in the interests of seeing local decisions being made for people which “would no

t have been taken by direct rule Conservative ministers”.

He said that while the Command Paper “did not remedy a number of the long-term problems born out of the protocol”, it did contain “important gains”.

“Our clear message going forward is that we are campaigning to send a strong message to a new Government, whether Labour or Conservative, that building on the progress to date, we will continue to fight to fully restore Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom, including removing the application of EU law in our country and the internal Irish Sea border it creates,” the DUP leader said, which was met with applause.

Mr Robinson also confirmed the party’s general election candidates at the meeting: Gregory Campbell in East Londonderry, Sammy Wilson in East Antrim, Jim Shannon in Strangford, Ian Paisley in North Antrim, Gavin Robinson in East Belfast, Paul Girvan in South Antrim, Carla Lockhart in Upper Bann, Jonathan Buckley in Lagan Valley, Phillip Brett in North Belfast, Tracy Kelly in South Belfast and Mid Down, Frank McCoubrey in West Belfast, Gary Middleton in Foyle, Tom Buchanan in West Tyrone, Keith Buchanan in Mid-Ulster, Diane Forsyth in South Down and Gareth Wilson in Newry and Armagh. – PA

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