DUP in disarray - Paul Givan as First Minister under threat if Edwin Poots loses no confidence vote

Paul Givan has been First Minister for less than six hours and already there is significant doubt that he will be able to continue on in the role if leader Edwin Poots loses a vote of confidence.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 5:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 7:12 pm

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DUP MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson.

LIVE UPDATES: DUP in disarray - Paul Givan as First Minister under threat if Edwin Poots loses no confidence vote

Last updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2021, 17:22

  • Meeting of NI Executive now underway
  • Arlene Foster tweet goes viral as DUP implodes
  • Paul Givan confirmed as new First Minister
  • Michelle O’Neill confirmed as deputy First Minister

Paul Givan as First Minister under threat if Edwin Poots loses no confidence vote

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said that any leader who does not have the support of party officers will “find it very difficult” to stay in their position.

Mr Wilson made the comments as he arrived for a meeting of party officers at the DUP headquarters in Belfast.

Asked if Edwin Poots would survive a vote of no confidence, Mr Wilson said: “It wouldn’t be a final decision, it would be decision by the executive.

“I think that any leader who doesn’t have the confidence of party officers and didn’t have the confidence of their Assembly group and their MPs will find it very difficult to stay in their position.

“You cannot lead people who are not following you. If you have no followers, you can’t be a leader, can you?”

Arriving at the meeting, DUP party chairman Lord Morrow told reporters “you’ll have to wait and see” when asked if there would be a vote of no confidence in Mr Poots.

Any vote of no confidence by the officers would not force Mr Poots from his role but it would heap pressure on his leadership.

Asked if Paul Givan would remain as First Minister of Northern Ireland if Edwin Poots loses the confidence of his party, Mr Wilson added: “Again, that’s the issue. If Edwin is no longer leader, then whoever did become leader would have the choice of the First Minister.

“These are all decisions we have got to make.

“The one thing I can tell you is that there is no appetite for a situation where we have an Assembly which can have its powers stripped from it by the Secretary of State at a whim simply because Sinn Fein demand that they get something that they can’t persuade others in the Assembly to deliver for them.

“That is no basis to have devolution.

“They wouldn’t do it in Scotland, it wouldn’t be tolerated in Wales and it shouldn’t be tolerated by anybody, not just the DUP, any self-respecting party in Northern Ireland.”

Meeting of NI Executive now underway

A virtual meeting of the Stormont Executive has got under way.

The planned meeting at which ministers will consider approving further Covid-19 relaxations had been in doubt following the political furore over the nominations of the First and deputy First Ministers.

The meeting started at about 3.30pm with First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill jointly chairing the exchanges.

Arlene Foster tweet goes viral as DUP implodes

Amid the unfolding internal DUP ructions at Stormont, former party leader Arlene Foster, who was ousted in a heave spearheaded by Edwin Poots supporters, tweeted about her “lovely lunch” in a Belfast restaurant.

Mrs Foster said she hoped everyone was having a “great day”.

“Just had a lovely lunch @DeanesAtQueens with a good friend,” she tweeted.

“It’s great hospitality is open again – Hope everyone is having a great day this lovely sunny afternoon. #ProudofNI.”

Meeting was ‘total shambles’ says DUP source

A DUP source described the internal meeting as a “total shambles”.

Party MPs had been invited to participate in a separate virtual briefing by Edwin Poots at 11.30am but it is understood three of them – Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Gavin Robinson and Sammy Wilson – turned up to the MLA meeting in the members’ dining room at 11.15am without being formally invited.

Heated exchanges apparently ensued.

Several MLAs rose to their feet to voice objections to nominating before Mr Wilson spoke shortly before 12pm.

At that point it is understood Mr Poots and Mr Givan left to participate in the nomination process in the Assembly.

Edwin Poots defies majority of DUP MLAs, MPs and peers who voted against nominating Paul Givan as First Minister

It is understood a significant majority of DUP MLAs and MPs voted against Edwin Poots’s decision to nominate a Stormont First Minister.

The vote was taken after a heated internal party meeting at Parliament Buildings ahead of the nomination process in the Assembly.

The PA news agency understands that Mr Poots and First Minister designate Paul Givan had left the room before the vote took place.

One senior party source at the meeting described the atmosphere to PA.

“Dreadful. Utterly dreadful. Never experienced the like of it,” said the source.

Paul Givan confirmed as new First Minister

New First Minister Paul Givan said: “Can I thank Edwin for his confidence in me.

“Our paths crossed 25 years ago. He is not just a colleague but a personal friend.

“At the age of 23 when I became the youngest councillor, who thought that I would end up at this stage today as Northern Ireland First Minister?”

He thanked his wife and family for their support throughout the years.

Mr Givan added: “I share the same drive and determination to serve the people of Northern Ireland. There is much goodwill from the public for this place to work.

“We must recognise there is more in common than separates us. Northern Ireland is a special place.”

DUP MLAs are currently in an emergency meeting

DUP MLAs are currently in an emergency meeting at Stormont over the party’s decision to nominate Paul Givan as First Minister after Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, confirmed the government in London would impose Irish language legislation by the end of the year if the NI Executive fails to do so.

The meeting was organised after an email from DUP MPs and peers to Edwin Poots was leaked BBC NI Politics Editor, Enda McClafferty.

The group of MPs and peers asks Mr. Poots to consider postponing the nomination of Mr. Givan as First Minister.

The group also asked their newly elected leader to meet with them as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Poots said on Good Morning Ulster on Thursday morning that despite Brandon Lewis’ announcement concerning Irish language legislation he still intended to proceed with Mr. Givan’s nomination.

Some in the DUP believe this is the wrong move as some in the electorate will perceive it as the DUP rolling over and allowing Sinn Fein to secure their demands without opposition.

Top MPs and peers demand emergency meeting with Edwin Poots and pausing of First Minister selection

DUP MPs and peers have written to newly elected leader, Edwin Poots, demanding emergency meeting and pause nomination of Paul Givan to replace Arlene Foster as First Minister.

The story was broken by BBC News NI Political Editor, Enda McClafferty on The Stephen Nolan Show on Thursday morning.

The letter addressed to Mr. Poots, was, according to the BBC, signed by DUP MPs Sir. Geoffrey Donaldson; Carla Lockhart; Gavin Robinson; Sammy Wilson; Gregory Campbell; Jim Shannon; Paul Girvan and DUP members in the House of Lords Lord Browne; Lord Hay; Lord McCrea; Lord Dodds and Lord Morrow.

The email sent by DUP MPs and peers to Mr Poots reads: “We note the announcement made by the Secretary of State in the early hours of this morning that both you and the Sinn Fein leadership have agreed to nominate a First Minister and deputy First Minister on the basis that Westminster will legislate on the Irish language and other matters if the Assembly fails to do so by October. We are also in receipt of your email this morning regarding this agreement.

“We are very concerned about this development and therefore, are urgently requesting that you meet with us as DUP Members of Parliament and peers to explain the basis of your agreement with the Secretary of State and Sinn Fein before any further steps are taken in this process, including the nomination of a First Minister. Assuming you will have prior consultation with your Assembly Group, we would be happy to join this meeting.

“You have often spoken of the need for accountability and transparency within our party and it is now essential that you consult with us as representatives of the people of Northern Ireland before you proceed further. We look forward to hearing from you thereto.”

The extraordinary move came after new DUP leader Edwin Poots wrote to party officials informing them of his plans to proceed with the nomination of Paul Givan, MLA, as First Minister.

Mr. Poots sent the email after the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, said the government would introduce Irish language legislation before the end of the year if the Stormont Assembly fails to do so.

It has also emerged that Mr. Poots did not consult with DUP officers before deciding to proceed with Paul Givan’s nomination later today.

Mr. Poots requires a majority of party officers to back the nomination of Mr. Givan as First Minister - it is questionable whether Mr. Poots would have the support he requires.

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