Northern Ireland news

PM has 'betrayed' the people of Northern Ireland - Starmer

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer with shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh at the Parliament Buildings at Stormont during a visit to Belfast. Picture by Peter Morrison/PA Wire

SIR Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of 'betraying' the people of Northern Ireland over the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal agreement.

The Labour leader was speaking during the first of his two-day visit to the north, accompanied by shadow secretary of state Louise Haigh.

He told the PA news agency that Boris Johnson had "not been straight about the consequences" of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"There is a positive future here but it does require the British government to properly understand its role, and I think that this Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has betrayed the people of Northern Ireland by not properly honouring that (the UK Government being an honest broker), and the words that have been used in pretty well every meeting I have had here in Northern Ireland is a lack of trust in the Prime Minister as an honest broker.

"That is a massive missing piece."

Sir Keir visited Forge Integrated Primary School in Belfast and also met PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne. He also held discussions with representatives of the five main political parties at Stormont to hear their concerns, including opposition to the Protocol from unionists.

"We must recognise that trust is fragile, and progress is stalling," he said.

"I understand the concerns of communities and businesses here about the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"I'm here to listen and to call for serious, practical solutions."

Speaking to media after the meetings, Sir Keir said trust in the Prime Minister was at an "all time low" in Northern Ireland.

He said the UK negotiating a deal on veterinary standards that could reduce the needs for checks in the Irish Sea would be "a big step in the right direction".

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