Northern Ireland's pro-British DUP elects Edwin Poots as new leader

Northern Ireland's pro-British DUP elects Edwin Poots as new leader

Edwin Poots has been elected leader of Northern Ireland's governing Democratic Unionist Party after defeating his more pragmatic challenger, Jeffrey Donaldson, in a secret ballot of party lawmakers in Belfast.

As agriculture minister in the five-party coalition, Poots has attempted to obstruct and delay the efficient rollout of European Union sanitary checks on British goods arriving at Northern Ireland ports.

"I think the opportunities for Northern Ireland are great, the opportunities for us to make Northern Ireland a great place after this 100 years has passed and we move into a new 100 years".

The choice for Poots was made by the 36 party members elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs) and House of Commons (MPs).

"The Northern Ireland protocol has proven to be a massive challenge for us and if we are to fight this, to ensure that everybody in Northern Ireland is not worse off as a outcome of the protocol then it is for us to do that together", Poots said after being elected.

Outgoing leader Arlene Foster says she will step down from that role on 28 May, and as Stormont First Minister at the end of June. His election will now go to the party executive for ratification.

"This party has been the authentic voice of unionism and will continue to be the authentic voice of unionism under my leadership".

I'm looking forward to a positive relationship right across Northern Ireland with my party colleagues and indeed with people from other parties.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr said his father, the party's founder, would be "immensely proud" that a democratic election was deciding the next leader. "That's a very important decision and I know he would be immensely proud of that today".

Sir Jeffrey and Mr Poots face several challenges, including post-Brexit trading arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been reviled by unionists and loyalists as a "border in the Irish Sea".

Just one candidate, former army captain Doug Beattie, has indicated he will run to replace outgoing Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken.

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