Northern Ireland news

Edwin Poots denies orchestrating putsch against predecessor Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster. Picture by Alan Lewis/ PhotopressBelfast

EDWIN Poots has denied that he orchestrated a move to depose Arlene Foster as DUP leader and said he only agreed to put his name forward to replace her after being approached by colleagues.

Mr Poots was elected DUP leader last month but was forced to resign within weeks following an internal party revolt over his decision to go ahead with the nomination of Paul Givan as Stormont first minister after a deal was struck between Sinn Féin and the British government over the progression of Irish language legislation.

Mr Poots rejected the suggestion he had orchestrated the plot against Mrs Foster.

"That is just not factual in terms of the Arlene Foster issue. I did sign the paper but that was a collective of individuals," he told the BBC.

"There was 85 per cent of the assembly group, so that wasn't something that was motivated by any individual.

"I did not choose to be leader or stand for leadership until people approached me thereafter, and there were particular reasons why they wanted me to do it."

Mr Poots said he would support Sir Jeffrey as leader and called for an end to infighting within the DUP.

"If Jeffrey is the only candidate, yes, I will support him," he said, ahead of leadership nominations closing yesterday.

"It will be a significant challenge for him. My focus is not on infighting. I may have had a bruising experience personally but I would like to think I am a better man than to continue with some sort of infighting because I think there is a bigger prize out there."

Mr Poots also claimed his decision to go ahead with the nomination of Mr Givan "adhered to party policy" on the full implementation of New Decade, New Approach.

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