Edwin Poots resigns as DUP leader after internal revolt

17 June 2021, 21:10 | Updated: 17 June 2021, 21:57

Edwin Poots has resigned
Edwin Poots has resigned. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Edwin Poots will stand down as Northern Ireland's DUP following an internal revolt against him.

Mr Poots, who only recently became leader, had nominated a colleague for First Minister and reconstitute the Executive there with Sinn Fein.

But he has now had to step down after politicians in his party hit back at that attempt.

"I have asked the party chairman to commence an electoral process within the party to allow for a new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party to be elected," he said in a statement.

"The party has asked me to remain in post until my successor is elected.

"This has been a difficult period for the party and the country and I have conveyed to the chairman my determination to do everything I can to ensure both unionism and Northern Ireland is able to move forward to a stronger place."

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A meeting of Democratic Unionist Party officers on Thursday saw Mr Poots face a major revolt.

The party appears to be in disarray after a significant majority of its elected representatives opposed Mr Poots' nomination of a first minister for Northern Ireland.

Mr Poots had selected his Lagan Valley constituency colleague Paul Givan to the post – but DUP Stormont members and Westminster MPs voted against his decision to reconstitute the Northern Ireland Executive with Sinn Fein in an internal party meeting.

They are furious he made the nomination after Sinn Fein secured a concession from Westminster about Irish language laws – which convinced Sinn Fein party to nominate a deputy First Minister as joint head of a reconstituted executive.

The UK government said it would pass the laws at Westminster in autumn if they were not approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

DUP politicians had warned against Westminster intervening and angered that Mr Poots was willing to re-form the Executive with Sinn Fein afterwards.

Mr Poots' resignation means he will be the shortest serving DUP leader in history, having been in post for just 21 days.

He was elected as Arlene Foster's successor on May 14, with the former First Minister suffering a revolt by Mr Poots' supporters. He was formally ratified as leader on May 27.