Arlene Foster pulls out of scheduled meeting with Brandon Lewis after DUP leadership challenge bombshell

First Minister, Arlene Foster, has pulled out of a scheduled meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, as the threat to her leadership of the DUP continues to grow.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 6:53 pm

Mrs. Foster and deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill, were due to meet with Mr. Lewis at 5.30pm but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute when news broke that up to 23 MLAs, four MPs and at least one House of Lords peer had signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership of the DUP.

The meeting was cancelled a mere two or three hours after Mrs. Foster played down to journalists the notion that her position as leader of the DUP was under threat.

“Stories on leadership come up from time to time, and it’s one of those times,” said Mrs. Foster earlier.

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Less than 90 minutes later, News Letter Political Editor, Sam McBride, broke the news that MLAs, MPs and at least one peer had signed a letter of no confidence in Mrs. Foster.

It is believed that the Chairman of the DUP, Lord Morrow, will now be asked to formally enact proceedings to facilitate an official challenge to Mrs. Foster's leadership of the DUP.

Responding to the speculation surrounding the future of Mrs. Foster as leader, the DUP said the issue would be dealt with internally and offered little in the way of new details.

“The Democratic Unionist Party conducts its business in accordance with its constitution and rules.

First Minster Arlene Foster during a visit to the Hammer Youth Centre in Belfast earlier today.

“The Officers of the Party oversee the conduct and organisation of its internal democratic electoral processes.

"Whilst understanding that there will be from time-to-time public interest in party processes, these issues, in the first instance, are matters for members of the party and we are not able to make any further comment at this time.”

Arlene Foster replaced Peter Robinson as DUP leader in December 2015 and became First Minister in January 2016.

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