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Edwin Poots replaces Arlene Foster as leader of DUP
14 May 2021, 18:36
Edwin Poots has been elected leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, replacing Arlene Foster who announced she was stepping down last month.
Stormont Agriculture Minister Mr Poots defeated the party's Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson by 19 votes to 17 in the poll carried out within the party's 36-strong electoral college.
It was the first contested leadership vote in the DUP's 50-year history.
In his acceptance speech at party headquarters in east Belfast, Mr Poots said: "I'm looking forward to a positive relationship right across Northern Ireland with my party colleagues and indeed with people from other parties.
"I think the opportunities for Northern Ireland are great, the opportunities for us to make Northern Ireland a great place after this 100 years has passed and we move into a new 100 years."
Mr Poots praised the "resilience" of Northern Ireland people through the first 100 years of its existence.
"It's that resilience that we are going to go forward (with) and make Northern Ireland a good place," he said, adding: "This party... will continue to be the authentic voice of unionism under my leadership."
Mrs Foster was ousted after an internal heave by party colleagues unhappy with her leadership.
She will step down as DUP leader on May 28 and Northern Ireland first minister at the end of June.
Identified as coming from the more hardline wing of the party, Mr Poots will be leader designate until Mrs Foster formally stands down.
The Lagan Valley MLA’s election will now go to the party executive for ratification.
Paula Bradley was elected the party's new deputy leader. She defeated Gregory Campbell by 18 votes to 16.
The DUP politicians eligible to vote comprised the party's eight MPs and 28 assembly members.
The voting by way of secret ballot took place at the party headquarters in east Belfast on Friday afternoon.
Ahead of the vote, Sir Jeffrey and Mr Poots made final pitches for support in a virtual hustings event on Friday morning.