Northern Ireland: EU 'hasn't shown good faith' says Poots
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The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is officially on the hunt for a new party leader after the shocking resignation of Edwin Poots after just three weeks. His authority was shredded after a bruising day at Stormont and allegations he failed to consult colleagues about the appointment of Paul Givan as First Minister.
Mr Poots has now resigned as party leader of the DUP after facing an internal party revolt over his decision to agree to the deal with Sinn Féin.
A majority of DUP members in the assembly had wanted to delay the process of appointing a First Minister, but the DUP boss went ahead regardless.
His decision sparked an internal revolt at a party meeting, which party sources described as “robust” and said it had become clear Mr Poots knew he had to resign.
Mr Poots took over as leader from Arlene Foster in May – narrowly beating Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in a leadership race.
He has held his position for just 21 days but will now stand down.
The DUP boss will remain in his post as a caretaker leader until a new leader is elected.
In a statement, Mr Poots 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.”
The DUP reportedly began the process of finding a new leader on Thursday and the process is thought to be moving “at pace” according to one source.
The most likely successor is party centrist Jeffrey Donaldson, who narrowly lost the leadership bid last month.
But Mr Poots’ resignation leaves the Stormont power-sharing mechanism and the Northern Ireland protocol on the brink.
And this could have major ramification for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as he tries to negotiate the situation with Northern Ireland in the wake of Brexit.
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Arguments have intensified between the EU and UK about the post-Brexit status of Northern Ireland in recent days.
The Northern Ireland protocol was created to avoid the return of a “hard” trade border in Ireland.
This protocol ensures all goods moving across the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to follow EU rules, even if they never leave the UK.
Both sides agreed to this protocol, but they are struggling to make it work in practice – which in turn is prompting anger across the region.
With the resignation of Mr Poots, Mr Johnson is likely going to have to get another leader on his side, otherwise, the leader may bow down to Northern Irish Brexit anger which is a threat to the PM.
In his maiden speech, Mr Givan failed to mention the Northern Ireland protocol, which prompted outrage among unionists.
The discontent fuelled a week of rioting in April which spread from unionist communities into pro-Ireland nationalist enclaves and saw at least 88 police injured.
Ireland’s Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a united Ireland is a “legitimate political aspiration”.
The trade border down the Irish Sea that Brexit created has angered unionists.
Mr Varadkar urged his party to work with the growing “middle ground” north of the border to advance the unification cause.
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