MINISTER of State for Northern Ireland Conor Burns has said there is "no excuse for the DUP not being back in government today".
The Conservative MP also said that not having a functioning executive was impacting those hit hardest by the cost-of-living crisis in Northern Ireland.
The DUP withdrew from the executive in protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
But in an interview with the BBC yesterday, Mr Burns said the "DUP should be back in government" and that the UK government formed by the next prime minister would sort out the protocol.
"There is no excuse for the DUP not being back in government today," he said.
"Not having a functioning executive is an impediment for us getting the money that Northern Ireland has been allocated as a result of the decisions taken by Rishi Sunak to help families with the cost of living challenges in England.
"Unless we get an executive we can't help those families in Northern Ireland.
"We will sort the protocol, the DUP should be back in government."
The Belfast-born politician added: "Frankly every aspect of unionist opinion wants changes to the way the protocol is being interpreted and applied here on the ground here in Northern Ireland.
"That is a sentiment that is shared in many ways beyond unionism, by businesses whose supply chains are disrupted by the decision of many companies based in England, Scotland and Wales to stop supplying to the Northern Ireland marketplace because of the costs, the certification and the bureaucracy.
"We want to get the protocol, in a way, working for everybody in Northern Ireland, all businesses in Northern Ireland and get it to a point where it commands a greater consent."