The DUP will not restore the powersharing Executive at Stormont, party leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said.
Mr Donaldson today reiterated that his party will vote against the new Windsor Framework Brexit deal and said he will engage with the Government for “clarification, reworking and change”.
His comments came ahead of a key vote at Westminster on the Stormont brake which is one element of the Windsor Framework.
“I have consistently indicated that fundamental problems remain notwithstanding progress made,” the DUP leader tweeted.
“Consequently there is not a sustainable basis at this stage to enable us to restore Stormont.
“We will vote against the proposal today & continue to engage with the Government to secure clarification, reworking & change.
“Our consultation also continues & we are giving people & businesses the opportunity to have their voice heard.”
I have consistently indicated that fundamental problems remain notwithstanding progress made.— Jeffrey Donaldson MP (@J_Donaldson_MP) March 22, 2023
Consequently there is not a sustainable basis at this stage to enable us to restore Stormont. We will vote against the proposal today & continue to engage with the Government to secure…
During Prime Minister's Question Time this morning Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker appealed to the DUP to agree to compromise on reforms to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade arrangements.
Responding to a question from the DUP leader, Mr Baker told the Commons: “At some point even unrelenting figures like myself do need to compromise and give the voters what they want.
“What I would say to him is that I recognise that compromise is extremely difficult, and we are in a position where we have got an opportunity to move forwards together.”
DUP East Derry MP Gregory Campbell asked about investing more in Northern Ireland’s energy infrastructure to match its broadband infrastructure.
Mr Baker replied: “I hope that he will join me in doing everything possible to ensure that the maximum investment can be made in energy in Northern Ireland.
“He knows exactly what he and his colleagues need to do to help me to serve him and service Northern Ireland, and that is of course to restore the devolved institutions.”
Stormont brake 'a very good thing'
The Stormont brake is a “very good thing”, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has told MPs.
Speaking in the Commons, DUP MP Jim Shannon raised the role of the EU, asking: “Will the Secretary of State agree that rather than an emergency brake, that it’s more like a handbrake, which does have the ability to stop a moving car, but rather than potentially or partially slow the vehicle – and if the only brake and accelerator can come from the EU, who retain the complete control over Northern Ireland, and by extension control the will of this House, and they shouldn’t and that’s indeed a tragedy and also a travesty?”
Mr Heaton-Harris replied: “Essentially, if the assembly says no to something, the presumption is the Government would veto it, but without this measure, Northern Ireland would continue to have full and automatic dynamic alignment with EU goods rules, with no say whatsoever in the Northern (Ireland) Assembly and no veto on amending and replacing measures. The Stormont brake is a very good thing.”
Meanwhile, the SDLP has announced its intention to support the Windsor Framework.
Leader Colum Eastwood said the party supports the framework to achieve the return of the Stormont Assembly but still has concerns about the agreement.
“The SDLP has taken time to consider the terms of the Windsor Framework, the balance it strikes between Assembly scrutiny and the potential for abusive veto, but more importantly the impact of the new arrangements on the unique economic benefits offered by dual market access,” he said.
“We continue to have serious concerns about the operation of the Stormont brake and we will be vigilant about its implementation, including the clear limits on the operation of a veto over amended internal market law.
“But overall the Windsor Framework provides a clear path back to devolved government in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking on the DUP’s boycott of Stormont over post-Brexit trading agreements, Mr Eastwood said: “The question now is not whether the DUP has got enough out of this deal – it’s whether people in every town and city in Northern Ireland have had enough of division and deadlock.
“We now have a unique investment proposition for people in Northern Ireland but it first requires an investment of political courage.”