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Arlene Foster has said politics "is a brutal" game as she revealed that none of the rebels who orchestrated her downfall as Northern Ireland’s First Minister had attempted to contact her since her resignation.
Speaking publicly for the first time since her resignation, the DUP leader also confirmed that she would be stepping down as a Stormont assembly member in June.
While brushing over questions about the plotters who forced her departure, she also appeared to take a thinly-veiled swipe at hardliners in the party, telling reporters she hoped her successor would continue to adopt the same unifying approach.
It came amid reports that Mrs Foster is considering resigning her party membership, with sources close to her claiming that she no longer believes it represents the party she joined.
However, The Telegraph has been told that Mrs Foster has not made a decision and is awaiting the outcome of the leadership contest to see whether a moderate or hardline successor is elected.
On a visit to a primary school in County Down, Mrs Foster said of her decision to resign: "I think the time is right to move on and to do something different, and that's what I'll do.
"Politics is a very brutal game. I think everybody knows that to be the case.
"I haven't really had any engagement from any of the colleagues who felt that I should leave, so I suppose that's the disappointment - that I don't actually know what the reason is for it.
"But, as I say, you know, that's politics, all political careers have to come to an end, mine will come to an end at the end of June."
It follows the announcement on Thursday that Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister, would stand to replace Mrs Foster.
A creationist who has previously stated his belief that the world is just 6,000 years old, Mr Poots is an outspoken opponent of the Northern Ireland Protocol and in February ordered officials to take unilateral action and suspend checks on goods arriving at ports.
His potential elevation to Northern Ireland’s top job is viewed with trepidation in Whitehall, with Government sources fearful that his religious views are likely to lead to clashes on key social issues.
Should Mr Poots or another hardliner beat more moderate candidates, there are also fears for cross-border cooperation between the province and the Republic, and for the power-sharing agreement with Sinn Fein.
In an apparent swipe at those seeking to install a more controversial figure, Mrs Foster said: "I joined a party that wanted to look forward, that wanted to build a Northern Ireland for everybody, that recognised that there were divisions in society and to try and deal with those divisions and to move Northern Ireland to a better place and I hope that's the direction of the party that continues."