Alex Easton wept for late dad's support as he was finally elected MP

Animal lover Alex Easton and his faithful friend, Bailey
-Credit: (Image: Alex Easton)


It was a trouncing Alex Easton could only dream of until he awoke yesterday afternoon, newly appointed as an MP and checking his pulse to make sure it was real.

The Co Down man topped the polls with almost 50% of the vote, pushing the Alliance’s Stephen Farry squarely to the political cliff edge and the UUP’s Tim Collins right off it.

And after four attempts to gain enough backing from the people he wanted to represent, after leaving the DUP to do things his own way, the Bangor man finally managed it in style.

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Now the 55-year-old is planning to split his life between his North Down constituency and Westminster, ensuring he continues with his ‘potholes and hedges’ agendas alongside national and international matters.

Sitting in jeans and T-shirt, appearing shell shocked by his new reality, Alex gave his first post-victory interview, and said: “I’m shattered, I’m elated, I’m shocked and delighted. I’m embarrassed for getting emotional about winning but I was tearful, I was overwhelmed and so, so grateful for every X in the box - and I’m excited to get started.”

Time to take the posters down
Time to take the posters down -Credit:Alex Easton

Alex, whose parents Alec and Ann, both 81, died together on January 23 last year following a fire in their home, had relied on his father for support in his political ambitions.

And his long-awaited victory was bittersweet as he struggled with emotions in the moment, his voice wavering in his first speech as an elected MP.

He said: “I felt calm beforehand and I could see the numbers were adding up after about just an hour of counting, and soon enough I was getting myself ready for victory but part of me kept questioning it.

“Then when the results were called out and I was announced as elected, I almost buckled. I wanted to call my dad and tell him, ‘We did it,’, I wanted to hear him and mum cheering down the phone. It was one of the happiest and saddest moments of my life.

Alec and Ann Easton died together in 2023 following a fire in their Bangor home, Co Down
Alec and Ann Easton died together in 2023 following a fire in their Bangor home, Co Down -Credit:Alex Easton

“Today after a sleep, I'm much steadier and I’m forcing myself to recall the good times when dad sat me down and encouraged me to go for it, when I saw in his eyes that he knew I could do it. He bolstered my confidence and self belief when it was lacking.

"I tried three times before to run as an MP and I know now I'm ready, it's time.

“After I left the DUP and was able to do my work the right way, to speak freely and make my own decisions, I could feel my self belief on the rise. I clung hard to that after Mum and Dad died, and in all the heartache and distress I held on to one thing; that my dad always supported my drive to be an MP and he believed I’d be a good one.

“He knew I had a compassionate heart and the drive to help people and that’s what he thought politicians should be all about.

“And he was right - that is what it’s all about and that’s partly why it was so emotional. I’ve waited for a long time for this time and now I’m ready to get started in my new role.”

No guarantees but the doors-to-door work was promising
No guarantees but the doors-to-door work was promising -Credit:Alex Easton

Alex says his election campaign really started two years ago and the result is the backing of the people he had always wanted to help and to represent.

He explained: “In the end leaving the DUP was my blessing, and it gave me the freedom to be me and to make decisions on merit, not under instruction from the DUP who I felt rarely had my best interests at heart. I was a part of a machine and free thinking was not encouraged. I had to break away. I was nervous but determined and today I can see that I made the right decision.

Watching the DUP results coming in throughout the night was strange, I felt no joy in the failures and no joy in their successes.”

As a North Down MLA Alex Easton quit the DUP after 21 years as a member. At the time he said he was at the “end of his tether” and saw no “respect, discipline or decency” in behaviour within the DUP.

Alex Easton gave a tearful victory speech after winning the North Down constituency
Alex Easton gave a tearful victory speech after winning the North Down constituency -Credit:Liam McBurney/PA Wire

His announcement came just hours after the DUP met to ratify Jeffrey Donaldson MP as its new leader in July 2021.

At the time Donaldson stated he hoped Alex would “find his way back to this party”.

But today the former DUP leader himself is no longer the party chief or a member of the party after resigning following his arrest and charge in March 2024, over allegations of non recent sexual offences.

“It has been a shock to see how Lagan Valley shifted after 27 years of unionist leadership in Jeffrey Donaldson to the Alliance Party in Sorcha Eastwood.

“Thankfully I saw off Alliance’s sitting MP in Stephen Farry in my constituency by sheer hard work, face-to-face communication and good relationships with voters. And I’ll continue to work hard. I promised I would and I have, and I will continue to do so.

“To be honest I’ve no idea what’s next. I’ve a letter in my pocket about my election, about being an MP and I haven’t read it yet. I got to bed at 5am and it’s still in my unopened. I presume I’m expected to be in Westminster next week some time.”

In clover: Animal lover Alex Easton recently bought a foal and his mother.
In clover: Animal lover Alex Easton recently bought a foal and his mother. -Credit:Alex Easton

But before he heads to Belfast City Airport, he has one very important decision to make: who will take over his MLA position in North Down.

Names have been bandied about, rumours are flying and Alex confirmed he has made approaches but it’s too early to call.

He said: “This is probably the most important and most challenging decision that I’ll make as an MP. I fought hard to get an MLA position, I worked hard as an independent and constituent faithful and whoever takes over from me needs to give me a series of steel fastened assurances that they will carry on in that manner.

Alex Easton, Independent Unionist candidate for the North Down constituency, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, during the count
Alex Easton, Independent Unionist candidate for the North Down constituency, at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast, during the count -Credit:Liam McBurney/PA Wire

“I need a faithful, loyal, hardworking unionist who will put the graft in and do everything in their power to make life better for the residents of North Down and our visitors.

“And while they are doing that, I have the chance to improve the situation from Westminster where I feel there has been a failure to build the right relationships in order to sell Northern Ireland properly, to show off who we are and what we offer.

“We should be leading the way in so many areas and I plan to make as many allies as possible, to create the right space for Northern Ireland to be recognised and celebrated not just by us, but by everyone.

“Enough time has been spent squabbling, now it’s time for relationship building and I plan to make the first move.”

How North Down Was Won

  • Alex Easton was elected with 20,913 and 48.3% of the votes in the North Down constituency.

  • Stephen Farry, Alliance Party of Northern Ireland polled 13,608 votes.

  • The UUP’s Tim Collins won 6,754 votes.

  • Barry McKee from the Green Party polled 1,247 votes

  • The SDLP’s Déirdre Vaughan had 657 votes

  • And Independent Chris Carter polled 117 votes.

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