In the background, issues surrounding the Northern Ireland protocol to the Brexit deal play a role that is weakening relations between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. After his departure, the party will likely take a tougher course, which could cause problems for Boris Johnson.
Arlene Foster is the 50-year-old daughter of a police officer and was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland for over five years. At the time, she had succeeded Peter Robinson, long haunted by scandals and ill health. Foster has become a stubborn leader, but not very successful. She was politically responsible for a scandal involving massive biomass fraud. His refusal to leave three years ago led to years of political stalemate in the sharing of power in Belfast.
She rose to prominence during the Brexit process because British Prime Minister Theresa May needed the support of the DUP, political support for which Foster had negotiated a billion pounds. Partly due to resistance from the DUP, May failed to secure a Brexit deal in the House of Commons. When Boris Johnson came to power, the role of the DUP was over. The new Prime Minister has simply ignored Foster and the trade unionists in Northern Ireland. He threw the DUP for the bus by accepting a border on the Irish Sea.
Since the start of this year, when the business problems became visible, Foster’s internal criticisms have escalated. A vote of no confidence has received a lot of support in recent days. More than Brexit played a role in the discontent. Foster had agreed to pay for Irish lessons and the legalization of abortion, which are sensitive issues in the conservative world of unionism. DUP delegates anticipated next year’s elections and decided that new leadership was needed.
The party will now elect a new leader, with Gavin Robinson as the favorite. Normally the head of the DUP becomes the first einister, but that could change next year. The union camp is divided, especially with the emergence of extreme conservative Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice, a ferocious who can rage just as fiercely as the infamous Reverend Ian Paisley. At the same time, the Catholic and pro-Irish part of Northern Ireland’s population is growing, which could lead Sinn Fein to take over.
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