Arlene Foster faces challenge from her DUP leadership
Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister Arlene Foster faces a revolt against her Democratic Unionist party leadership amid the region’s problems with Brexit and calls for a border poll.
Two people close to the DUP told the Financial Times they were aware of a letter signed by its representatives in Stormont and Westminster calling for the leadership race of the first party in its 40-year history.
A senior DUP official said it was “inevitable” that an annual vote to confirm the leader would be held “within the next two to three weeks.” Voting is usually a formality held at the party’s annual conference in September.
“The letter calls for there to be a contest, which is quite ambiguous,” the insider said, arguing that the outcome of any vote could ultimately depend on who opposes Foster. Potential candidates include MP Jeffrey Donaldson and Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots.
The second person with knowledge of the letter, a DUP adviser, said there was “very clearly a challenge to management” which could lead to an open vote for an alternative to Foster or could be resolved by consensus if ” Arlene agrees to concede and leaves quietly “.
The adviser said dissatisfaction with Foster’s leadership had grown over the DUP’s inability to improve Northern Ireland’s position after Brexit. Unionists are viscerally opposed to a customs border that has been created between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The DUP initially accepted the deal, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, but has since unsuccessfully requested its abandonment and is now mounting a legal challenge.
“A decision to oust Arlene Foster is likely to add to the uncertainty and create fears among opponents of the DUP that the party intends to dig deeper trenches in its self-declared war on NI protocol “Said Diarmaid Ferriter, professor of history. at University College Dublin, adding that Foster and the DUP “have been on the political trail for some time because of their gross mismanagement of Brexit and their reckless and blissful rejection of the implications of Brexit for Ireland from North”.
Reverberations from Brexit and potential moves towards an independent Scotland have also intensified calls for a border poll to determine whether Northern Ireland’s future is with the UK or the Irish Republic, an issue that touches at the very heart of unionism.
“There is clearly an initiative on the part of some people to try to oust Arlene,” said another DUP adviser who had not seen the letter. “The days to come will bring clarity.”
The DUP has acted to quell speculation, claiming issues related to its “internal democratic electoral process” are “in the early stages”. . . questions for party members ”. “We are unable to comment further at this time,” the DUP added in a statement Tuesday evening.
Earlier Tuesday, Foster Told the Belfast Telegraph about which she had “bigger things to worry about” than a threat to her leadership.
Foster, 50, became the first woman to lead the DUP when she took over from Peter Robinson in December 2015. She survived a vote of no confidence the following year following the cash for ash scandal, a renewable energy incentive program. it has gone badly and could cost Northern Ireland up to £ 490million.
The power-sharing assembly in Stormont has been suspended for three years in the wake of the scandal, and Foster has been leading it since his return in January 2020.
“I will support Arlene until the end,” said Alison Bennington, DUP advisor at Glengormley. “I don’t believe there will be a leadership challenge, but we’ll have to wait and see. The party is taking care of it.
Bennington said his support for Foster stemmed from “his leadership” in all areas. Another DUP adviser said he had “no complaints against our leader”.