The deadline for nominations has passed for the position the DUP’s new leader – with only one name in the running – Sir Jeffery Donaldson.
Currently MP for Lagan Valley, Sir Donaldson will succeed Edwin Poots who lasted only three weeks in the position.
It is expected that the MP will step down from his Westminster seat this Autumn to also take up the position of First Minister. This would trigger a by-election for his Lagan Valley seat.
However, to return to the Assembly Jeffery would have to be co-opted to another MLA’s seat, thought to be a seat that wouldn’t be contested by the current MLA in May.
Donaldson could officially become DUP leader this Saturday and is also expected to nominate a new caretaker First Minister until such times as he can take up that position himself.
Confirming the nomination, DUP Chairman Lord Morrow said “Nominations for the position of Party Leader closed today (Tuesday 22 June) at 12 noon. I can confirm that I have received one valid nomination, that being from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
“Following the completion of our party processes Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP will be the next leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.
“The last number of weeks has been difficult for the Party and mistakes have been made. Now is the time to move forward in a spirit of humility and mindful that our focus must be on serving the people whom we represent.
“I look forward to the challenges of rebuilding and reconnecting in the time ahead.”
Setting out his vision for Northern Ireland, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP said: “The task ahead is great. I do not underestimate the challenge, but I know the overwhelming majority of people who live here want Northern Ireland to keep moving forward.
“I have the vision to lead unionism into its second century, by embracing those who believe in a Northern Ireland where people of all identities and none can live, work and raise their family.
“I have the vision to unite Northern Ireland and heal the divisions of the past. We don’t move forward by ignoring our past but by remembering and learning.
“I have the vision to lead a Democratic Unionist team who will inspire and command the confidence of those we are privileged to represent.
“The Northern Ireland Assembly is the place where every element of our society is represented. The coalition government is unwieldy, but it ensures every voice is heard.
“Such partnership is how we should move forward. It must be based on respect for each other’s mandate.
“To that end, I will be speaking with the Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity to emphasise that it is not realistic to expect stability when every unionist representative in the devolved institutions opposes the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The Government and those who claim to be protectors of peace and stability, must step up and deal with the Protocol in a manner which respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.
“I want to bring stability and encourage everyone to focus on what unites us as a people rather than on what divides us. There has been too much focus on division and recrimination both within unionism and within Northern Ireland.
“I will play my part but the Government and Brussels must step up and recognise the flaws of the Protocol and how it was foisted upon Northern Ireland.”