Wilson hasn’t spoken to Robinson since December leadership tweet

Peter Robinson's tweet effectively ended Sammy Wilson's leadership bid
Peter Robinson's tweet effectively ended Sammy Wilson's leadership bid

Sammy Wilson has said that he has not spoken to Peter Robinson since the then First Minister’s tweet which effectively gave Mr Wilson little chance of becoming DUP leader.

In what appeared to be a carefully choreographed leadership handover, the favourite to be DUP leader, Nigel Dodds, announced just two days before nominations closed on December 9 that he had decided not to stand for the leadership.

At that point, Arlene Foster made clear her intention to stand for the leadership.

Just hours later, amid well-informed suggestions that Mr Wilson was seriously considering a bid to be leader – something which would have meant that the DUP had its first ever contest for the leadership – Mr Robinson issued a tweet which ultimately convinced Mr Wilson not to challenge for the top job.

Mr Robinson’s message said that Mrs Foster had been nominated for the leadership with the support of “over 75 per cent of those entitled to vote in the electoral college [DUP MLAs, MPs and its MEP]”.

Yesterday Mr Wilson was asked on the Nolan Show whether he had felt hurt by Mr Robinson’s message.

The East Antrim MP said: “It became quite clear that the majority of people in the party were supportive of Arlene – I didn’t wish to cause any difficulties for her at all.”

When asked if he felt betrayed by Mr Robinson’s tweet, the DUP veteran and former finance minister said: “I think you have to ask Peter about that. it’s nothing to do with me. He made that decision. I haven’t spoken to him about it so I really don’t know...”

Later in the interview Mr Wilson made clear that he has not spoken to Mr Robinson since then. Mr Wilson praised Mrs Foster as someone who he said will be a “superb leader”.