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Foster to leave DUP after standing down as party leader - reports
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster is to leave the Democratic Unionist Party when she stands down as party leader, according to reports.

After five years at the helm, Ms Foster announced on Wednesday she would resign from the role on May 28th and as the First Minister at the end of June.

It followed a heave against her from a significant majority of her party's Assembly members and MPs, who signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership.

On Friday, BBC NI reported Ms Foster will also leave the party, to which she defected from the Ulster Unionist Party in 2004.

It is reported that Ms Foster no longer believes the DUP is the party she joined and that it is moving in a different direction. It is understood the Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA informed her constituency association on Thursday.

There is speculation she may join the House of Lords.

The North's minister of agriculture Edwin Poots has announced he is to stand for the leadership of the DUP.

Arlene joined the DUP from the UUP at the height of Paisley's domination. If the creationist Edwin Poots is elected leader it will go back to its Paisleyite fundamentalist biblical roots. I doubt her claim that the DUP has changed much since, but it may be that she has changed. In any case a seat in the Lords may be an apt sinecure, as she has said she won't live in a united Ireland in any case.

However her election as Leader marked a broadening of the DUP from its purely fundamentalist Presbyterian roots, and made it more acceptable to Anglican unionist  voters. If she leaves the party entirely, where will those voters go? Back to a moribund UUP (Ulster Unionist Party), or the more pragmatic, centrist and conciliatory Alliance Party? Opinion polls indicate the later. Her leaving could thus signal the end of the DUP as the dominant party of unionism, to be replaced most probably by the Alliance party which supported Remain and is prepared to try to make the Protocol work.

If so, it could be the beginning of a new dawn for N. Ireland, with a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach from the unionist community. Whether the more moderate nationalist SDLP will experience a similar renaissance at the expense of Sinn Féin is less likely. Nationalists are unlikely to pass up an opportunity to dominate N. Ireland politics with the largest party and first ministership.

This could undoubtedly result in some bitterness amongst unionist Alliance Party voters that their moderation isn't being matched on the nationalist side. But they can hardly expect nationalists to give up their place in the sun after nearly 100 years of subjugation. In any case, Sinn Féin have shown they can be accommodating if they have to be, and will face a growing threat from the SDLP if they aren't.

We may be witnessing the beginnings of a political way forward for N. Ireland if the Alliance Party become the dominant party within unionism.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 at 12:22:29 PM EST

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