Gavin Robinson: Unexpectedly tasked with leading the DUP following Donaldson’s shock exit – who is he?

Serving as MP for East Belfast, Robinson has been deputy leader of the DUP since June 2023, he has been an ally of Jeffrey Donaldson and was involved in the negotiations that lead to power-sharing being re-established.

Gavin Robinson probably didn’t expect that he would be serving as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) so soon, but following Jeffrey Donaldson stepping down earlier today, he has been appointed interim party leader.

Robinson has served as MP for Belfast East since 2015, taking the seat from Alliance‘s Naomi Long.

In June 2023 he was elected as deputy leader of the DUP, replacing Paula Bradley. He ran against Jonathan Buckley MLA for the position and won following a vote of DUP MPs and MLAs.

Robinson was appointed to the Privy Council on Thursday night, hours before Jeffrey Donaldson disappeared from social media as his accounts were all disabled.

Before serving as a Member of Parliament, he served on Belfast City Council as Lord Mayor between 2012 and 2013. He was co-opted to the council to replace Sammy Wilson.

He has lived in East Belfast all his life – attending Grosvenor Grammar School and then Ulster University where he gained a degree in law and government. He then studied at Queen’s University obtaining a Masters in Irish Politics.

He is a Presbyterian and now attends the Church of Ireland.

Robinson is seen as a liberal and progressive voice within the party having been the first DUP politician to attend a pride event.

It is also reported that he and Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly played a key role in restoring Stormont alongside Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

He has been handed the task of leading the DUP through one of its biggest challenges. He was a key ally of Jeffrey Donaldson – who himself had critics within his party – with some not happy with the decision to return to power-sharing.

He and Emma Little-Pengelly were both appointed by Donaldson which some could see as a vulnerability when he attempts to keep the party in line on the run-up to a general election that already seemed like it was going to be challenging.

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