Arlene Foster to Step Down as DUP Leader and Northern Ireland First Minister

Northern Ireland First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster has announced that she is stepping down from both posts.

In a statement issued on April 28, Foster said that she would step down as DUP leader on May 28 and as First Minister at the end of June.

“It is important to give space over the next few weeks for the party officers to make arrangements for the election of a new leader,” Foster said in the statement.

“As First Minister, it is important that I complete work on a number of important issues for Northern Ireland alongside other executive colleagues,” Foster also said, adding that serving as the First Minister has been the “privilege of my life.”

Foster’s decision comes after most of the DUP Assembly members and four members of parliament signed a letter of no confidence in Foster and the party leadership.

During her time as DUP leader and First Minister, Foster has faced many challenges, including Brexit — which the party supported — the green energy scandal that led to the collapse of Stormont for three years, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am the first to recognize there have been ups and downs over the last five and a half years,” Foster said in the statement.

The post-Brexit Irish Sea Border has caused friction within the party as they fear the trade border will weaken the position of Northern Island in the United Kingdom.

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