Edwin Poots on legal action against Northern Ireland Protocol
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His resignation came following a crisis meeting of party officers at the DUP headquarters in east Belfast. Members of the DUP had been furious at Mr Poots’ decision to press ahead with power sharing plans with Sinn Fein.
Mr Poots, 56, will become the shortest serving leader in DUP history.
He was only voted in as Arlene Foster’s successor on May 14 and was formally ratified as leader on May 27, meaning he officially served just 21 days in the role.
In a statement, Mr Poots said he has informed DUP chairman Lord Morrow to start the process for his successor.
He acknowledged it has been a “difficult period for the party and the country”.
Mr Poots added he will remain in office until the leadership contest is completed.
In a statement, he said: “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.
“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.”
Earlier today, the DUP was been plunged into disarray after a significant majority of its elected representatives opposed Mr Poots’ decision to nominate a Stormont First Minister.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and MPs opposed his decision to reconstitute the powersharing Executive with Sinn Fein.
It came as Sinn Fein secured a key concession from the UK Government to legislate for Irish language laws at Westminster.
Westminster committed to pass the stalled laws in the autumn if they were not moved at the Stormont Assembly following talks between Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and delegates from the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Many DUP politicians had warned against intervention on such a sensitive devolved issue.
Following the nomination, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy put forward party colleague Michelle O’Neill as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister.
Arriving at the crisis talks this evening, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, explained any DUP leader would find it “very difficult” to stay in their position without the support of officers.
He said: “I think that any leader who doesn’t have the confidence of party officers and didn’t have the confidence of their Assembly group and their MPs will find it very difficult to stay in their position.
“You cannot lead people who are not following you. If you have no followers, you can’t be a leader, can you?”
Mr Wilson had been among several DUP MPs and peers who sent an urgent email to Mr Poots urging him to hold off nominating Mr Givan until he explained his decision to reassemble the Executive after Sinn Fein secured its key ask on Irish language laws.
One senior party source at Thursday morning’s pre-nomination meeting described the atmosphere as “dreadful, utterly dreadful”.
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