The first candidate to announce their bid to become the next leader of the DUP comes from vintage party stock.
Edwin Poots’ father, the late Charlie Poots, is attributed as one the founding members of the party alongside the late Ian Paisley senior in 1971.
His son followed in his footsteps, starting his political career on Lisburn City Council and was later elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998.
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. pic.twitter.com/Qesd3GTCwR— Edwin Poots MLA (@edwinpootsmla) April 29, 2021
It comes after Arlene Foster resigned on Wednesday came a day after party colleagues unhappy with her leadership moved against her, with a majority of senior elected representatives signing a letter of no confidence.
Discontent at the DUP’s Brexit strategy was a major factor, with party rank-and-file laying some of the blame for the emergence of an Irish Sea border at her door.
Traditionalists from the party’s religious fundamentalist wing also harboured concerns over positions Mrs Foster had taken on some social issues.
Mrs Foster was back at her desk on Thursday as she co-chaired a meeting of the Stormont Executive.
Poots rejects the theory of evolution.
In an interview with BBC presenter William Crawley, when asked how old the Earth was, Poots replied: “My view on the earth is that it’s a young earth. My view is 4,000 BC”.
Poots also caused controversy by banning blood donations from gay people, saying “I think that people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood.” He defined risky behaviour as “someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes”.
This thread by Matthew Thompson, Senior Reporter at LBC, about Poots, holds no punches.
So Edwin Poots, darling of the traditionalists, is favourite to be the next DUP leader.— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 29, 2021
For those who don’t know him, a short introduction to the man, in his own words
On the age of the Earth: “My view on the earth is that it's a young earth. My view is 4000 BC.”
Poots on the Big Bang: “You’re telling me that cosmic balls of dust gathered and there was an explosion?— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 29, 2021
“We’ve had lots of explosions in Northern Ireland and I’ve never seen anything come out of that that was good”
Poots on gay civil partnerships:— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 29, 2021
“Basically its unnatural in the first instance, and it’s abominable in the second instance.”
Poots on adoption:— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 29, 2021
“The natural order – whether one believes in God in evolution – is for a man and a woman to have a child and therefore that has made my views on adoption very clear and on raising children very clear, that it should be a man and a woman that raises a child.”
Poots on Arlene Foster being made DUP leader in 2016:— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 29, 2021
“Her most important job has been, and will remain, that of a wife, mother and daughter.”
The point to be made, with no value judgement of my own, is that he is of the hardest of hardline traditionalists.— Matthew Thompson (@mattuthompson) April 29, 2021
The evangelical base of the DUP incarnate.
The direction in which he took the party would be fairly clear.