Arlene Foster revealed today that none of the DUP politicians who wanted to depose her as a leader reached out to her to explain why after she announced her decision to quit.
Ms Foster said that “politics is a very brutal game” and that she has not “actually spoken to any of the colleagues who have supposedly signed a letter” in which she does not trust her leadership.
She will step down as DUP leader on May 28 and will step down as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland at the end of June.
Her comments came amid reports that she plans to run away from the DUP completely when she leaves her roles.
BBC News NI reported that sources close to Ms Foster said she no longer believes the party to which she was a member.
Arlene Foster revealed today that none of the DUP politicians who wanted to depose her as a leader contacted her to explain why after she announced her decision to quit.
Ms. Foster said she is ‘at peace’ with her decision to step down as leader following an internal reaction from the party against its approach to Brexit.
She said this morning during a visit to a primary school on the Ards Peninsula that she will wait to step down as prime minister before setting out her intentions on whether or not to leave the DUP.
“It’s been a turbulent week, it’s been a week where I’ve had to make some pretty big decisions,” she said.
“But I think the time is right to move on and do something different, and that’s what I’ll do.”
She added, “I still haven’t seen the letter that was talked about, so I assume I’ll see that one day.”
Although she’s been under increasing pressure from disaffected DUP supporters for months, the pace at which her grip on power is slipping this week has surprised many.
Her resignation on Wednesday came a day after party colleagues unhappy with her leadership revolted against her, with a majority of high-ranking elected representatives signing a letter of suspicion.
Dissatisfaction with the DUP’s Brexit strategy was a major factor, with backers placing some of the blame for the creation of an Irish Sea Border on her doorstep.
On a visit to Kirkistown Primary School in Co Down, Ms. Foster said, “Politics is a very brutal game – I think everyone knows that’s the case.
‘I didn’t actually speak to any of the colleagues who would have signed the letters, they have not been in contact. So, you know, that’s a matter for them.
“I’m going to move on and look forward, looking forward to the next chapter on what I’m going to do with my life.”
The prime minister said she hopes the DUP “looks ahead.”
I joined a party that wanted to look ahead, that wanted to build a Northern Ireland for everyone, that recognized that there was division in society and that was trying to deal with that division and move Northern Ireland to a better place. and I hope that’s the direction of the party that continues, ‘she said.
‘It was made clear to me by the number of people who felt they wanted to sign the letter, which, as I said, I have not yet seen, that I did not have the support of my colleagues, and if you do not’ If you have the support of your colleagues, you really cannot continue in the position of party leader.
“So the time is right to move on, do something different and do something new, and I’m really looking forward to that challenge.”
Mrs. Foster said “not everyone has signed the letter” and “some very close friends have not.”
She added: “ I haven’t really gotten an engagement from any of the co-workers who thought I should leave, so I guess that’s the disappointment – that I don’t really know the reason for it, but, like me said, you know, that’s political.
“All political careers must come to an end, mine will come to an end at the end of June.”
Ms Foster confirmed that she will step down from the Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
When asked if she would like to join the House of Lords, she said no such decisions are made by her.
She said she wishes the best to everyone who leads the company, but she would not be interested in who she would support in a leadership competition.
Edwin Poots, Stormont’s agriculture minister, is currently the only DUP politician to formally announce his candidacy for the leadership.