This was one of the hardest decisions of my life and a very lonely one, but as from last night I resigned from the DUP and will sit as an Independent Unionist. (see Statement below)
“It is with great sadness and hurt that I find myself doing one of the hardest things in my life and resigning from the Democratic Unionist Party. I have decided to sit in the Northern Ireland Assembly as an independent unionist. I find myself in a position where I have had to stand back and watch as colleagues tear themselves apart, brief against other colleagues and run to the media in order to hurt each other on a daily basis, there is no respect, discipline or decency I have just had enough. This is not something that I want to be a part of as a unionist, and it is not Alex Easton, I am at the end of my tether with U-turns, and reaction politics and not proactive. It hurts me a great deal to watch this day in, day out. No matter who people supported during the recent leadership contest, I find elements from both sides are equally to blame, through their actions, for recent events and it continues.”
“I have given 21 years of my life to the DUP, sometimes to the detriment of my health and wellbeing. It has been extremely lonely at times for me, and few have cared how I have felt. I am a unionist. Unionism is in my heart and soul and it is ultimately why I am in politics; I crave unity for the unionist community and I am not getting this from any of the unionist parties or their leaders at present. The union is slowly being eroded from beneath our feet. We have a Westminster government who are destroying the DUP through their actions over the head of unionism and with their implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol. The Northern Ireland protocol has damaged our businesses, trade, and even our ability to bring our pets across the Irish Sea. With unnecessary border infrastructure, checks and bureaucracy, they are destroying our union. I look to the east across the Irish Sea every morning and see a British government that don’t show any care, love or affection for the unionist people or our cause of keeping this country together they have sold our birth right from under us with the NI protocol, they just don’t understand us. They will do anything it takes to appease the republican movement. The republican movement still use the threat of violence and instability as their trump card every time. The IRA Army Council are the real people who run Sinn Fein, not the front of Michelle O’Neill and others that we see on our TVs. I then look to the south and I see an Irish government hellbent on causing division with careless words, actions, talk of border polls and plans for a United Ireland. They do not seem to understand that no form of a United Ireland will ever be acceptable to the unionist people.”
“I know that my decision may annoy some people and may upset others, and I apologize if that is the case. I am now only interested in working for my constituents, delivering for them on the ground, and working for unity across all shades of unionism. I would like to see the unionist people of Northern Ireland united under one broad banner. I want unity to allow for people to express themselves and be accepted for who they are, alongside principles that can unite us all as one with the union as our foundation. Our people are crying out for leadership! I cannot see that happening. All I can see are the various strands of unionism, tearing themselves apart, time after time, and allowing our opponents to keep chipping away towards their goal of a border poll. It is no wonder that there is a disconnect between our politicians and our people. They are not being listened to. I would like to see a positive and proactive unionism, not a reactive and submissive unionism.”
“The challenge for the new leader of the DUP, and for Doug Beattie, Jim Allister and Billy Hutchinson is to come together under a united unionist banner and provide proper leadership, putting egos aside for the good of the union before it is too late. We must learn from our mistakes, but I fear that unionist leaders are incapable of learning lessons. They cannot see that our opponents fear unionist unity. I am pleading with all unionist parties to UNITE us and stop tearing unionism apart. I am sick and tired with all of the fighting amongst unionists and so are our people. My door is always open to those who share my values of defending the union, selling the benefits of the union and uniting unionism together. However, all parties have to prove to me they are genuine in these aims and can achieve them before we lose the union by default. I will work positively with all who are willing to work towards these goals, including my former party if they are willing to do so.”
“I know there will be consequences for my actions but I am not interested in attacking the DUP or briefing against my former colleagues and I hope that they feel the same way about me and won’t try to discredit me. I am only interested in working on the ground for all of my constituents across North Down at this time, no matter what their views or beliefs may be. I want to help local businesses recover following the covid-19 pandemic. I want to see North Down flourish, with the best schools, a health service that is fit for purpose, improved infrastructure, and good job prospects for our young people. These are goals, I believe, that every public representative should be working towards and I intend to keep delivering for my constituents for as long as they decide that they would like me to do so. I will also continue to promote the benefits of the union. The union is in my heart and soul and I genuinely wish the next leader of the DUP good luck and every blessing going forward.”