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UK

Leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party Edwin Poots could face a confidence vote after just three weeks in office following his supposed insistence that MLA Paul Givan took over from Arlene Foster as First Minister against the wishes of most DUP MLAs/MPs.

  • Earlier, the BBC's Stephen Nolan tweeted:
    • "Senior DUP source has just told me he expects DUP party officers will inform Edwin Poots today they have no confidence in him as leader of the party."
    • "It is not the case that the DUP have decided to oust Edwin Poots. But very senior people, past & present , saying his position is untenable. BUT-remember Poots won the leadership just weeks ago. It is definitely fair to say many senior DUP deeply unhappy with Irish language decision."
  • Much DUP anger seems to be coming from those opposed to the deal reached between Poots and the leadership of the republican Sinn Fein, which allowed Givan to become first minister and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill to remain as deputy first minister. The deal is set to see legislation passed in the Stormont Assembly giving constitutional status to the Irish language (a long-standing republican aim). UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis said that if the legislation was not progressed in Stormont by end-September then it will be introduced in the UK Parliament in Westminster.
  • The infighting among Northern Ireland's largest unionist (pro-union with the UK) party comes at a time when there is significant anger in the community over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. In the worst-case scenario the disagreement risks the removal of the protocol, which could see the entire UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement collapse.
  • DUP figures will also be well aware that elections for the Stormont Assembly are due by May 2022. The little NI-wide opinion polling done in 2021 so far shows Sinn Fein as the most popular party, with the DUP, the moderate unionist Ulster Unionist Party and the cross-community Alliance Party battling for second place.
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-0981 | tom.lake@marketnews.com

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