Northern Ireland

First parts of Windsor Framework will be implemented in October – Heaton-Harris

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said the first parts of the Windsor Framework will be implemented in October (Mark Marlow/PA)
Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said the first parts of the Windsor Framework will be implemented in October (Mark Marlow/PA) Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said the first parts of the Windsor Framework will be implemented in October (Mark Marlow/PA)

The first parts of the Windsor Framework will be implemented as planned in October, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said.

Mr Heaton-Harris ruled out making any changes to the pact or reopening negotiations with the EU as he continues efforts to persuade the DUP to return to the devolved powersharing institutions at Stormont.

The unionist party collapsed the Stormont executive last year in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements created by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Windsor Framework struck by London and Brussels earlier this year sought to reduce the red tape on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK while maintaining the dual market access.

Some elements of the deal are due to take effect later this year.

However, the DUP has insisted the new accord does not go far enough to address its concerns around sovereignty and the application of EU law in Northern Ireland and the party is maintaining its blockade of Stormont until it receives further legal assurances from the UK Government.

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In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Heaton-Harris said that while the Government is continuing to work with the DUP to allay their concerns, the first phase of the framework would be implemented as planned this autumn.

He said: “I was very pleased to make sure that we got the Windsor Framework over the line, it got a massive vote in Parliament, it has been well endorsed.

“It has changed a whole host of things for the positive and it will be implemented.

“The first phase starts to be implemented at the beginning of October.

“I think when it is implemented people will see that it works and it does what we said it is going to do.

“Sometimes people do need to see things working.”

Windsor Framework
Windsor Framework Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the Windsor Framework in February (Dan Kitwood/PA)

At the core of the Windsor Framework is a new system for the flow of goods. Anything destined for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK will travel there as part of a green lane, with significantly fewer checks. Anything that could cross the border and enter the EU’s single market will travel through a separate red lane.

It also includes a new Stormont brake mechanism which would allow a minority of MLAs in the Stormont Assembly to formally flag concerns about the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland – a move that could see the UK Government veto their introduction in the region.

The framework was unveiled by the UK Government and the EU in February but it has not yet persuaded the DUP to return to Stormont.

Mr Heaton-Harris said he was “neither surprised nor disappointed” that the powersharing institutions had not been restored more quickly.

He said: “I kind of guessed it would take a reasonable period of time because there is a lack of trust, or had been a lack of trust that had built up over a number of years between unionism and the British government and that is quite a barrier to break down.”