DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has issued a formal response to the UK Government’s new Windsor Framework deal on Northern Ireland, threatening to spark a Brexit crisis.
In his appraisal, Sir Jeffrey raised concerns that the agreement with the EU did not deal with some of the fundamental problems at the heart of Northern Ireland’s current difficulties.
He stated that there were key areas of concern which require further legal clarification, re-working and change, including the fact that the new framework doesn’t adequately remedy the harm done by the current Northern Ireland protocol.
The DUP has provided a list of key areas of concern with the deal as it stands. The concerns include the fact that Northern Ireland’s ability to trade with the rest of the UK is still limited and that the government must further reduce trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
The proposed “Green Lane” for goods travelling only between the GB and NI needs greater clarity on how it will operate in practice.
The party also believes that the “Stormont Brake” must be effective in law, and allow members of the NI Assembly to determine whether amended or new laws are implemented.
Yesterday, President Joe Biden confirmed that he plans to visit Northern Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. In response to Rishi Sunak’s invitation, he joked, “Twenty-five years? It seems like yesterday.”
Meanwhile, senior Tory Brexiteers have accused the Prime Minister of dodging scrutiny over his Northern Ireland deal with the EU.
Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee Bill Cash published a report accusing Mr Sunak of refusing to appear before his panel of MPs despite being offered three separate dates.
The European Research Group (ERG) warned that Mr Sunak’s scrutiny-dodging would factor into their conclusions on the new Northern Ireland framework.
A Government spokesperson said they would provide a response to Sir Jeffrey shortly. Sir Jeffrey concluded his statement by saying that the party has already commenced discussions with the UK Government on a range of issues where they want greater clarity and where they believe more work is needed.
He said, “We want to see a return to the delicate political balance within Northern Ireland where the views of unionists are valued and respected.”