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North vote Edwin Poots beats Jeffrey Donaldson to replace Arlene Foster as leader of DUP

Mr Poots praised the "resilience" of Northern Ireland people through the first 100 years of its existence.

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Edwin Poots is the new leader of the DUP. Press Eye.

Edwin Poots is the new leader of the DUP. Press Eye.

Edwin Poots is the new leader of the DUP. Press Eye.

Edwin Poots has beaten Jeffrey Donaldson by 19 votes to 17 to become the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. 

Mr Poots replaces Arlene Foster, who resigned after a heave within the party unhappy over the Northern Ireland protocol and over her abstension on a Stormont vote on banning gay conversion therapy.

Mr Poots praised the "resilience" of Northern Ireland people through the first 100 years of its existence.

"It's that resilience that we are going to go forward and make Northern Ireland a good place," he said in an address at party headquarters in east Belfast.

"My father was a founder member of the DUP some 50 years ago, and I joined after the death of the Reverend Robert Bradford MP in 1981 and throughout all of that period this party has been the authentic voice of unionism and will continue to be the authentic voice of unionism under my leadership."

The new DUP leader pledged to unite the bickering strands of unionism to fight the Brexit deal and thus lay the foundations for keeping Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom.

"The Northern Ireland protocol has proven to be a massive challenge for us and if we are to fight this, to ensure that everybody in Northern Ireland is not worse off as a consequence of the protocol, then it is for us to do that together," Mr Poots said after being elected as the new leader.

"This party has been the authentic voice of unionism and will continue to be the authentic voice of unionism under my leadership," he said. "I will be a leader in unionism who will be reaching out to other leaders in unionism".

It was the first time in its 50-year history that there was an election for the leadership of the hardline unionist party.

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