DUP to ratify Edwin Poots as new leader

The ruling executive of the Democratic Unionist Party will meet in Belfast later to ratify Edwin Poots as the party’s new leader.

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, will include speeches by the new leader and new deputy leader Paula Bradley following their ratification.

Coronavirus – Mon May 24, 2021
First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

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.

💬STATEMENT 💬Fermanagh and South Tyrone DUP Association met this week to voice their disgust at the manner in which our…

Posted by DUP Fermanagh and South Tyrone on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

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.

UUP leadership
Doug Beattie is the new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) (Liam McBurney/PA)

Meanwhile the Ulster Unionist Party will also meet on Thursday night to ratify their new leader Doug Beattie.

That meeting is expected to take place virtually.

Mr Beattie, a decorated army veteran, was the only candidate for the UUP’s top job.