Arlene Foster sought to play down a reported attempt to oust her as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party last night following claims a significant number of elected DUP representatives had signed a no-confidence letter.
“Stories on leadership come up from time to time, and it’s one of those times,” she said.
The DUP is facing growing anger from the unionist community over its handling of Brexit.
There were riots on the streets in recent weeks as controversy grows over what amounts to a form of border in the Irish Sea as a result of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Critics have accused Ms Foster of squandering the party’s influence at Westminster, particularly during its confidence and supply deal with the Conservative government.
Poor results in opinion polls are reported to have increased discontent among DUP supporters.
There has also been controversy over Ms Foster’s recent decision to abstain in a vote on gay conversion therapy.
In a statement the DUP said: “Whilst understanding that there will be from time to time public interest in party processes, these issues, in the first instance, are matters for members of the party and we are not able to make any further comment at this time.”
Asked whether her leadership was in jeopardy on a visit to a youth centre in Belfast on Tuesday afternoon, Ms Foster said: “We’ll just deal with it and move on because I’ve bigger things to do, including getting us through this Covid pandemic, including listening to the concerns of working-class communities.
“These stories come up from time to time. This is no different.
“I haven’t received any letters from constituency associations so I’m not going to get into a running commentary on these issues.”
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