Northern Ireland

Sammy Wilson quits as DUP’s Westminster chief whip

DUP MP Sammy Wilson gets a mention in the book. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA

Veteran DUP MP Sammy Wilson has quit as the party’s Westminster chief whip.

The East Antrim representative, who has held his seat for almost 20 years, is believed to have stepped down from the role earlier this week.

It is understood Mr Wilson remains one of the DUP’s 12-member party officer team.

It is not known why the 71-year-old former Belfast mayor resigned as chief whip, however, he has been an outspoken critic of the post-Brexit trade arrangements, including the recent Safeguarding the Union command paper, which saw the DUP end its two-year boycott of the Stormont institutions.

He attacked the British government over the deal earlier this month but did not explicitly criticise DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson  speaks to the media as Party leaders and officials attend a meeting  at Stormont Castle  to discuss the key issues for an incoming Stormont executive.
The Northern Ireland Assembly will sit on Saturday, two years exactly since power-sharing collapsed.
DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

Last weekend, along with Lord Nigel Dodds and Lord Maurice Morrow, the one-time Stormont executive minister published an essay in the News Letter outlining objections to the arrangements contained in the command paper, which they insist retain the Irish Sea border.

The article claimed the deal agreed between the DUP and British government did not “undo the constitutional and economic damage of the Protocol/Windsor Framework”.

“There is no doubt that many would love to see these contentious, difficult and embarrassing issues go away,” the DUP objectors wrote.

“The fact is they will not…and they should not be allowed to.”

Neither Mr Wilson or the DUP has commented.