DUP leadership election result: Edwin Poots appointed First Minister

Edwin Poots

DUP leadership election result: Edwin Poots appointed First Minister - latest news

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has chosen as its new leader Edwin Poots, a "young earth creationist" who rejects the theory of evolution and believes the world was made by God 6,000 years ago.

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.

He said: "The opportunities for us to make Northern Ireland a great place after this hundred years has passed and we move into a new hundred years are vast".

The DUP politicians eligible to vote comprised the party's eight MPs and 28 Assembly members.

Victory for the blunt-spoken Poots means Northern Ireland's main British Protestant party will adopt a tougher stance against EU-required checks on goods arriving from the rest of the United Kingdom.

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Mr Poots, the Stormont Agriculture Minister, said it was "an vast honour" to be chosen for the role, having beaten the party's Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson by 19 votes to 17.

Poots will replace Arlene Foster, who has led the DUP since 2015.

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.

A secret party ballot will be held at 11am today.

Poots insists he must focus on strengthening his party's public appeal ahead of Assembly elections scheduled for May 2022.

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Reacting to his election, Poots, who recently underwent cancer surgery, said: "It is an enormous honour and pleasure to stand here today in this position, it is not a position that I expected to be in some weeks ago".

"At last the members, the elected members, are deciding who their leader is".

The campaign for the first leadership contest in the DUP's 50-year history has been unusual, in so much as the party prevented both men speaking publicly about their candidature.

He is one of a number of DUP ministers who have protested against the Brexit arrangements by refusing to attend meetings with Irish counterparts established under the 1998 peace deal that ended 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

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