Easton’s independence pledge as new MP takes seat

Easton’s independence pledge as new MP takes seat

By Iain Gray

NEW North Down MP Alex Easton has pledged to remain independent for the life of the current parliament.

Dismissing speculation that he could be tempted to rejoin the now-depleted ranks of the DUP in the House of Commons, he said: “I will be an independent MP until the end of this cycle, and that’s just the facts.”

Mr Easton added that he expects to have a good working relationship with the DUP’s four members of parliament, as well as newly arrived Commons unionists from the UUP and TUV.

But with his gamble of standing as an independent paying off after a nine-year struggle to become MP, he’s adamant that he has no intention of becoming a party man during the five years the current parliamentary term is likely to last.

His words came after a convincing victory in last week’s election, which saw him emerge with a commanding 7,300 majority to scoop North Down from Alliance’s Stephen Farry.

Winning the seat back for Unionism shortly after 5am last Friday morning, an emotional Mr Easton paid tribute to his family – including his late parents Alec and Ann, who tragically died in a house fire 16 months ago and whom he described as his greatest supporters across more than two decades as a politician.

Mr Easton totalled 20,913 supporters in a swing towards him of 9.6%, comfortably beating his tallies of previous years and gathering almost half of all votes cast in the constituency.

Meanwhile Mr Farry dropped by 4,750 in the poll, admitting that his total had fallen to the base level of support for Alliance in North Down – lacking the broader appeal needed to carry a Westminster victory.