Coffee House Shots

Will the DUP lose ground under Edwin Poots?

11 min listen

This week Edwin Poots was formally endorsed as the DUP’s new leader, in a meeting which Arlene Foster, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Poots’s rival in the leadership campaign) and other senior DUP politicians walked out of before Poots gave a speech. What does the future hold for the divided political party that held so much sway in Westminster during the Brexit process? Katy Balls talks to James Forsyth and the Irish Times’s Denis Staunton.

On the podcast, Denis suggests three ways forward for disgruntled DUP politicians like Foster and Donaldson. One, they could try to topple Poots. Two, they could go back to the Ulster Unionist Party (from which they defected in 2004). Or three, they could form their own party. On the possibilities, Denis points out that the system of single transferable vote in Northern Ireland could benefit moderate parties in the middle as they hoover up second preferences:

‘Essentially a modern party… A party like that could find themselves transfer fairly… and that can in the end mean that you get many more seats than you would otherwise.’

Part of the reason that Arlene Foster was ousted was disillusionment over the Northern Irish Protocol and in particular, its implementation. Denis, James and Katy also discuss the latest round of talks between the British government and the EU, which may see some sort of exception made for pharmaceutical supplies. James points out that an agreement on this is vital for the success of moderate Unionism in Northern Ireland and for relations across the Irish Sea.

‘When Unionism doesn’t trust the Westminster government, it goes into quite a paranoid and dark place.’

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