Edwin Poots has become the first person to announce their intention to stand for the leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party.

The widely anticipated move by Mr Poots comes 24 hours after Arlene Foster announced her decision to stand down as party leader and Stormont First Minister.

The Lagan Valley Assembly member has been viewed as one of the main contenders to replace his departing leader, who was forced to quit in the face of an internal heave against her.

In a post on Twitter Mr Poots, who is currently Northern Ireland's Agriculture Minister, declared his candidacy to become the next leader of party.

In the social media post, he started by thanking Mrs Foster for her "dedication and service" to the DUP over the last 20 years, "especially the last five years as its leader and wish her and her family well going forward".

Mrs Foster is standing down as DUP leader on 28 May and as Northern Ireland First Minister at the end of June.

Mr 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.

Since then, Mr Poots has held four ministerial portfolios - culture, environment, health and now agriculture.

In his role as agriculture minister, he has responsibility for implementing the checks required under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

2021 has also been a challenging year for Mr Poots personally having received a diagnosis of kidney cancer.

He briefly stepped aside from his ministerial portfolio in February, however was back at his desk following a successful operation by early March.

Amid the recent rumblings of discontent against the outgoing leader, Mr Poots made little secret of his political ambitions and has long been seen by many as the leading contender to replace her.