The Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) internal turmoil is beginning to cause difficulties in the pro-British party’s delicate relationship with the UK government.
The Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, has criticized DUP leader Edwin Poots’ decision not to serve as First Minister.
Writing in the Sunday Times (June 06), Lewis argued: "When we have meetings with the devolved authorities and with the Prime Minister it is with the First Minister and deputy First Minister, it's not with party leaders".
"When there's a royal visit, it's First Minister and deputy First Minister. Having the leader of the largest party which has the First Minister, not be the First Minister will make things more difficult", Lewis complained.
Newly-elected Poots is preparing to announce his ministerial line-up, with DUP MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly – the devolved legislature of NI) Paul Givan reportedly the favorite to succeed Arlene Foster as First Minister.
For his part, Givan has not quashed rumors that he is set to become the head of Northern Ireland’s devolved government even though he is not the leader of the largest pro-UK party in the British-controlled territory.
Speaking to the state broadcaster BBC, Givan said: "I've made it clear to Edwin [Poots] that whatever role he wants me to do I've never shied away from taking on that responsibility".