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Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton still to say who he is backing to be the next DUP leader

Jeffrey Donaldson expected to join the leadership race today

Middleton to stand as the DUP candidate in Foyle for the upcoming General Election

Gary Middleton

Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton has not yet indicated publicly who he is backing to be the next DUP leader.

Edwin Poots remains the only person who has put his name forward to become the party's new leader following Arlene Foster's decision to step down in the coming weeks as both DUP leader and First Minister.

However, it is believed that DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson will enter the leadership race today.

Who takes over as the new DUP leader will be decided by the party's 27 MLAs and eight MPs

Since announcing his bid for the leadership, Mr Poots has received public support from a number of senior party colleagues.

The Derry News contacted Mr Middleton to find out his views on the leadership battle but he did not respond.

He also has not made comment on social media in recent days about the leadership contest.

It emerged yesterday that if he becomes the next DUP leader, Mr Poots will not take on the job of First Minister.

In a statement to the Sunday Life, his campaign team said the role of leader would involve rebuilding the party's core.

It is understood that Mr Poots would want to remain as Agriculture Minister.

Given that he is only official candidate so far, Mr Poots is the bookmakers favourite to become the next DUP leader.

Whoever gets the job will be only the party's fourth leader following in the footsteps of Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Mrs Foster.

Announcing his decision to run for the leadership, Mr Poots said: “I am a proud Northern Ireland man, I love its people and its place, and it faces many challenging times, it’s with that in mind, I’m putting my name forward for the leadership for the Democratic Unionist Party,” he said.

“I look forward to the engagement and the debate with colleagues and the wider public in this contest.

“Northern Ireland is a place that has had many great things over this last hundred years, I wish to see us rebuild, revitalise, reinvigorate and revive for the next hundred.”

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