Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has resigned from his position amid “allegations of an historical nature”.

The announcement of Donaldson’s resignation came through a statement released by the DUP, confirming his departure and suspension from party membership pending the outcome of the judicial process surrounding the allegations.

Donaldson’s leadership was seen as a stabilising force, particularly following his instrumental role in reviving the Stormont executive and assembly through a deal with Downing Street.

As the DUP scrambles to fill the leadership vacuum, senior figures within the party convened an emergency meeting and appointed Gavin Robinson, the deputy leader and East Belfast MP, as interim leader.

Donaldson’s departure comes as a surprise to many, especially considering his recent efforts to strengthen the DUP’s position ahead of the upcoming general election. He has deleted of social media accounts on X, Instagram, and LinkedIn earlier on Friday.

A seasoned politician with a reputation as a unionist hardliner and pragmatic leader, Donaldson’s journey from his upbringing in Kilkeel, County Down, to his tenure as a Westminster MP has been marked by significant political milestones. His opposition to the Good Friday Agreement in the 1990s, followed by his eventual support for it and his stance on Brexit, shaped his legacy within Northern Ireland’s political landscape.

Despite controversies and criticisms, including accusations of destabilising Northern Ireland, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson commanded respect in London, Dublin, and Washington. His withdrawal of the DUP from power-sharing in 2022, which led to the collapse of Stormont, and subsequent actions that prompted a softening of the Irish Sea border, showcased his influence and strategic prowess.