The May 2021 Democratic Unionist Party leadership election was triggered by Arlene Foster's resignation from leadership. It was the Democratic Unionist Party's first leadership election since the party's founding in 1971.
Foster released a statement on 28 April 2021 announcing her intention to resign as party leader on 28 May in order to provide party officers with some space to arrange for the leadership contest. Party chair Maurice Morrow later announced that the leadership election would take place on 14 May 2021.
Edwin Poots MLA won, with 19 votes from DUP MPs and MLAs, beating Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP's 17 votes. At the same time, Paula Bradley MLA was elected as the party's deputy leader to replace Nigel Dodds, Baron Dodds of Duncairn, beating Gregory Campbell MP by 18 votes to 16.
After agreeing to a deal that resolved the stalemate over the Irish Language Act, Poots stood down as leader on 17 June after a meeting where a majority of DUP MLAs and MPs voted against the party nominating a replacement for Arlene Foster.
Following the end of Brexit negotiations that culminated in the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement in 2020, party leader Arlene Foster was criticised for supporting prime minister Boris Johnson, who was blamed for the Irish Sea border due to the Northern Ireland Protocol. In contrast to most other DUP Northern Ireland Assembly members, Foster abstained in a vote on gay conversion therapy.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
|7 December 1962
Kilkeel, Northern Ireland
|Leader in the House of Commons (since 2019)
MP for Lagan Valley (since 1997)
|3 May 2021|||
|27 May 1965
Lisburn, Northern Ireland
|Minister of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (since 2020)
MLA for Lagan Valley (since 1998)
|29 April 2021|||
|22 November 1984
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|MP for Belfast East (since 2015)
Lord Mayor of Belfast (2012–2013)
Member of the Belfast City Council (2011–2015)
|Endorsing Jeffrey Donaldson|
The election was held on 14 May 2021, with the result announced on the same day at approximately 17:00 BST. Under the party's constitution, any party member that is either a Member of the Legislative Assembly or an MP in the House of Commons is entitled to vote. The electorate encompassed the DUP's 8 MPs and 28 MLAs. The five DUP members of the House of Lords were not permitted to vote.
|Candidate||MP / MLA votes|
|Sir Jeffrey Donaldson||17||47.2|
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- Poots, Edwin [@edwinpootsmla] (April 29, 2021). "Today, I announce my candidacy for leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. I love this country and its people and I look forward to engaging with party colleagues in the days ahead" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Hogan, Laura (14 May 2021). "Edwin Poots to succeed Foster as new DUP leader". RTE News. RTE. Retrieved 17 June 2021.