A Tory peer has said the DUP made a “great mistake in dispensing with the services” of its former leader Arlene Foster.

Lord Godson, director of Policy Exchange, and long-time friend of unaffiliated peer Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee, said he thought her a “credible and articulate voice for unionism”.

His comments came after Lady Foster gave her maiden speech in the House of Lords, speaking about the important cultural and economic ties between the UK and India.

Lord Godson said: “It’s my great pleasure to rise to welcome Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee for her maiden speech on this occasion.

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing her for near on 30 years when she was plain Arlene Kelly, an apprentice solicitor in Enniskillen.

“And it’s been wonderful to watch her contribution to the life of the province and indeed the totality of these islands and to be able to say that I think the DUP made a great mistake in dispensing with her services, because she has I think, in my view, been the most credible and articulate voice for unionism in these islands since my late noble friend Lord Trimble.”

Lord Trimble was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1995 to 2005 and the first First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2002.

Lady Foster, meanwhile, was leader of the Democratic Unionist Party from 2015 to 2021 and First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2016 to 2017 and 2020 to 2021.

She stepped down from both roles in May 2021 after the DUP’s 27 assembly members and reportedly four of its eight Westminster MPS signed letters calling for her to step down.

The coup came as party grassroots blamed Lady Foster for the trade barriers down the Irish Sea as a result of the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland protocol that Boris Johnson negotiated with the EU.

Unionists were and still are concerned that the protocol weakens Northern Ireland’s position in the UK.

Lady Foster joined the House of Lords back in November, with former DUP deputy leader Lord Dodds of Duncairn and Lord Godson himself.