Edwin Poots is named new DUP leader

DUP MPs and MLAs have voted for their new Party Leader and Lagan Valley MLA Edwin Poots has been crowned.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 5:10 pm
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 29th April 2021 DUP MLA Edwin Poots pictured at Stormont in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

On Friday (May 14), a secret ballot was held at Party Headquarters in Belfast to decide between the two candidates - both Lagan Valley politicians.

The choice was between Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who were both bidding to succeed Arlene Foster as Party Leader.

Party Chairman Lord Morrow announced that Mr Poots had won the election by 19 votes to 17.

Speaking after the announcement Mr Poots said it was an “immense honour and pleasure” to be elected, but not a position he expected to be in.

He thanked Almighty God for giving him the strength. Mr Poots also thanked his wife and family for their support over his weeks and years in politics.

He also paid tribute to the election team who, he said “worked around the click to secure victory”.

Mr Poots continued: “I am looking forward to good relationships with my colleagues and with other parties.

“My father was a founder member of the DUP and I joined it after the death of Rev Robert Bradford MP in 1981 and throughout that period this party has been the authentic voice of unionism and will continue to be so under my leadership.”

Mr Poots continued by discussing the need to create jobs and educational opportunities for young people, as well as addressing the health service and lengthy waiting lists,

“I want to say this very clearly,” he said. “I will be a leader in unionism and I want to see unionism working together. The NI protocol has proven to be a massive challenge and if we are to fight this to make sure people in Northern Ireland are not worse off, it is for unionism to do that together.

“We don’t want to have bickering in unionism as we’ve had in the past and I ask all unionists to work with me .”

After losing the vote, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “I would like to congratulate most sincerely my friend and constituency colleague on his election as leader of DUP and I would like to thank all of my elected colleagues who voted for me.

“I would like to thank my family for their support and the many people who have contacted me from all over Northern Ireland to offer me encouragement and a prayer of support.”

Referring to his colleague Gregory Campbell, who lost out on the Deputy Leadership to Paula Bradley, Sir Jeffrey continued: “We sought to offer the Party a choice and I have no regrets about putting my name forward to give the party a clear choice.

“They’ve made their choice and I respect that. The Party must now consider what it means for our way forward, for the union we cherish and for Northern Ireland, a place I love. We move forward from here.”