My leadership will be ‘rough around the edges’, new UUP boss Doug Beattie says as he is ratified leader

Doug Beattie has admitted his management style may be “rough around the edges” after being ratified as the new Ulster Unionist Party leader.

Mr Beattie was confirmed as the successor to Steve Aiken as party leader in a virtual meeting of party executives on Thursday.

He met with a small number of senior party figures at the party’s headquarters on Belmont Road in east Belfast to be ratified.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Beattie said his unique leadership style would help him engage with voters.

New UUP leader Doug Beattie outside Ulster Unionist headquarters on the Belmont Road in east Belfast, ahead of Mr Beattie's formal ratification as leader. Picture date: Thursday May 27, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story ULSTER UUP . Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire

He said: “I guess we all think we bring something unique to a political party.

“I’m no different.

“I articulate myself in a different, particular way.

“My CV is not a political CV, it’s a completely different type of CV.

“My management and leadership styles are very different.

“I think I’m a little bit rough around the edges.

“I think people like that rough around the edges.

“So I think there’s a manner in which I could help engage.

“Why is that important?

“Because if I can engage, then I can tell people what our policies are.

“When people can see what our policies are, they will understand what the Ulster Unionist Party is all about.

“We are about bringing people together, making this the best part of the United Kingdom that we possibly can, and trying to forge and create a union of people, where people are happy to say ‘I live in Northern Ireland part of the United Kingdom’.”

With Edwin Poots also expected to be ratified as the next leader of the Democratic Unionist Party elsewhere in Belfast on Thursday evening, Mr Beattie took aim at the manner of their leadership contest.

He said: “We have done this in an upfront manner, we’ve spoken to our previous party leader who I have to thank for his for his leadership and his friendship.

“We’ve gone through a process which is always going to be brutal, but you don’t have to make it worse than it needs to be.

“You can do this in a sensible pragmatic way.

“We came out straight away, we didn’t close off the media. We talked to the media.

“We didn’t close off engagements, we talked to the people.

“We didn’t get away from the cameras, we put ourselves in front of the cameras.

“That’s the way you have to do things.

“For the DUP to deal with this afterwards I think they’ve got it wrong, but I think we’ve done it the right way.”

Mr Beattie also said that while constitutional issues will be important, his focus will be on bread-and-butter issues such as the health service, employment and poverty.

He said: “The protocol is something which we have to deal with and engage with, at every single level.

“We have to deal with it and we will deal with it, that’s really important.

“But people have to understand something as well.

“We have people who are dying on waiting lists.

“We have people who are sick on waiting lists, we have people who are in poverty.

“We have people who haven’t got a job or have just lost their job.

“We have huge mental health issues and wellbeing issues.

“They’re really important as well, if not more so.

“They have to be seen as a priority and that’s what I’m going to be looking at.”


A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe