SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell confirms he will exit from the Assembly “in the next few months”

Alasdair McDonnellI was in a very vulnerable seat in South Belfast. I’m re-elected there and I will be choosing Westminster [interrupted] We will sort out Stormont in the next few months, that will be done. (Alasdair McDonnell)

Bookies will be opening two sets of odds today:

  • Who will be Alasdair McDonnell’s replacement as MLA for Belfast South as he confirmed on today’s Sunday Politics that he will step down from his position as MLA? [Claire Hanna must surely be the favourite, or former councillor Niall Kelly …]
  • How many blog posts will be written on Slugger O’Toole about the candidate selection and co-option? [Back in 2013 we managed 3+ articles over a few days]

No doubt SDLP insider FitzJamesHorse will keep us up to date on his blog with the front runners once he recovers from his tour of the 18 Westminster constituencies. Questioned further about the timetable of his departure from the Assembly and his future as SDLP leader the Alasdair McDonnell added:

I will be talking to the party about the process of moving now that I have secured the Westminster seat for the third time. That’s a major achievement. South Belfast is still a unionist majority constituency and I have won it against the head on three occasions … We’re only hours after the election and I’m going to basically talk to party colleagues and set the processes in train at a convenient moment to find a replacement and we will move on then …

I don’t put myself forward [to the annual conference to stand as leader]. It’s very simple: the party branches put me forward. And if the party wants me I’ll be there as leader as long as they want me. And as soon as they find somebody else or think they’ve found somebody else I’ll be quite happy to step aside …

Now to await Sammy Wilson and Gregory Campbell’s announcements that they’ll swiftly end their double jobbing or whether they’ll wait until the new law kicks in at the next Assembly election. Maybe one of them hopes to be announced as Health Minister tomorrow (Monday 11)

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