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Stormont statement

Arlene Foster quits as NI’s First Minister over Brexit

Arlene Foster

Quit: Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster has announced her resignation as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Her decision follows an internal party rebellion over her handling of Brexit. 

More than 20 DUP Northern Ireland Assembly members and four MPs had signed a letter voicing no-confidence in the leadership.

Mrs Foster said in a statement issued this afternoon that she intends to step down as DUP leader on 28 May and will then leave her post as First Minister at the end of June. 

She said: “A short time ago I called the Party Chairman to inform him that I intend to step down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party on the twenty-eighth of May and as First Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.”

Mrs Foster said it has been the “privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as their First Minister”. 

She became leader of the party in December 2015 and, the following month as leader of Stormont’s largest party, she was appointed first minister of Northern Ireland.

She was the first woman and the youngest person to hold both jobs.

“My election as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party broke a glass ceiling and I am glad to inspired other women to enter politics and spurred them on to take up elected office,” Mrs Foster said.

“I understand the misogynistic criticisms that female public figures have to take and sadly it’s the same for all women in public life.

“I want to encourage you to keep going and don’t let the online lynch mobs get you down.”

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