Edwin Poots ratified as new DUP leader

27 May 2021, 22:58 | Updated: 27 May 2021, 23:00

Edwin Poots has been ratified as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
Edwin Poots has been ratified as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Edwin Poots has been ratified as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and is expected to become the first Stormont leader to turn down the role of First Minister

The Stormont Agriculture Minister narrowly defeated Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson earlier this month in the party's first contest for leader.

The meeting, at a Belfast hotel on Thursday evening, was also attended by the new deputy leader Paula Bradley.

n a speech following his ratification, Edwin Poots said: "I will be a builder for Unionism. Restoring, re-energising, not grandstanding or issuing threats or warnings.

"Our institutions are not a bargaining chip in our campaign to get rid of the protocol.

"We will consistently roll back the objectional provisions of the protocol, as we have been doing.

"That involves arguing our case forcefully and with conviction. It involves making Brussels and Dublin aware that the protocol is intolerable and unworkable.

"Legal challenges are one correct tactic, but the guaranteed way of reading our sales of the divisive protocol is through the Assembly."

He added: "We will employ political tactics to continue the pressure, and let Dublin see that isn't some hiccup, but rather something that has the worrying capacity to destabilise relationships that they have gained most from."

It comes after the DUP Fermanagh and Tyrone association released a statement expressing their "disgust" at the treatment of outgoing leader Arlene Foster.

Mrs Foster announced her resignation as First Minister and DUP leader last month following an internal revolt against her leadership.

Four weeks on, Mrs Foster this week said she has still not had sight of a letter reportedly signed by party colleagues asking her to step aside.

Mr Poots has indicated he will nominate a colleague in order to focus on the job of leading the party.
Mr Poots has indicated he will nominate a colleague in order to focus on the job of leading the party. Picture: PA

Fermanagh and Tyrone DUP Association posted a statement on their Facebook page - shared by MP Gavin Robinson - which stated the treatment of Mrs Foster "was not done in our name" and pledged to "stand firm by her side".

Mrs Foster said she would step down as DUP leader on Friday and as First Minister at the end of June.

Mr Poots has signalled that he will become the first DUP leader not to take the First Minister position at Stormont, and will instead nominate a colleague in order to focus on the job of leading the party.

MLAs Mervyn Storey and Paul Givan are reportedly being considered for the post.

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