DUP welcomes decision to suspend parliament

Queen Elizabeth II inviting Boris Johnson to become prime minister and form a new government during an audience in Buckingham Palace. Mr Johnson will seek an extended suspension of Parliament ahead of a Queen's Speech on October 14 in a move which would hamper efforts by MPs to thwart a no-deal Brexit 
Michael McHugh, PA

Boris Johnson's DUP allies have welcomed his decision to suspend Parliament.

Leader Arlene Foster said it had been the longest session since the Union of England and Scotland in 1707 and that she had spoken directly with Mr Johnson about his plans.

She said he was "well within his rights" to suspend Parliament.

Mrs Foster said the Queen's Speech would also offer an opportunity to bring focus back to Northern Ireland, with the renewal of her party's confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives.

"I think the Prime Minister is well within his rights to look for a Queen's Speech - he wants to set out his domestic agenda," she said.

"It gives us the opportunity here in Northern Ireland, through ourselves, to bring a focus back to Northern Ireland again, particularly around the confidence and supply agreement, and I look forward to engaging with the Prime Minister over the coming weeks."

"As outlined in the confidence and supply agreement in 2017, the terms of that Agreement will also be reviewed in advance of the new session.

"We originally envisaged that being after two years. This will be an opportunity to ensure our priorities align with those of the Government."

She said the DUP will continue its work with the Prime Minister to strengthen the Union, deliver a "sensible EU exit deal" and restore devolution in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster added: "The new session of Parliament will set a new domestic legislative programme which can deal with the matters most important to people such as their safety, their schools and their hospitals."

Mrs Foster said Parliament would only be in suspension for four days more than originally envisaged during the break for conference season.

"There will be ample time to discuss Brexit if MPs want to discuss that before the European Council, which I understand is on October 17th, and indeed after the European Council as well," she added.

Asked whether the DUP could become isolated in Northern Ireland after the Ulster Unionist Party criticised Mr Johnson's move as an abuse of process, she said: "The Ulster Unionist Party will have to answer for themselves.

"All I know is the Prime Minister is entitled to go to Her Majesty the Queen, seek a new Queen's Speech, particularly as a new leader and new Prime Minister he wants to set out his domestic agenda and I don't think there's anything unusual about that."

Mrs Foster rejected the suggestion the Queen had been placed in a difficult position.

"She has very clear constitutional roles and she will know that," said the DUP leader.

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