Rishi Sunak Calls On DUP To End Stormont Boycott

"They need to get back in," Rishi Sunak said.
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland on February 28, 2023.
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland on February 28, 2023.
LIAM MCBURNEY via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has heaped pressure on the Democratic Unionist Party to end their boycott of Stormont and get back to power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

The prime minister said his new Northern Ireland Brexit deal, known as the Windsor Framework, addressed concerns about sovereignty and problems with the current protocol arrangement.

He also appeared to suggest the new deal will go ahead regardless of the DUP’s stance, arguing what mattered was the “people of Northern Ireland” rather than any one party.

While the PM did not reference the DUP by name, he said that concerns “people had with the protocol were valid”.

The DUP have boycotted the Northern Ireland Assembly's power-sharing government for a year over concerns about the protocol.

What Is The Northern Ireland Protocol?

It is a trading arrangement, negotiated during Brexit talks, to allow goods to be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks.

The deal was aimed at protecting the delicate Good Friday Agreement and to avoid putting up a hard border between NI and the Republic.

However, unionist parties argue that the protocol instead places an effective border across the Irish Sea, undermining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.

NI’s largest unionist party, the DUP, is refusing to take part in the power-sharing government unless its concerns are resolved.

The DUP and Tory backbenchers are now studying the details of the complex set of arrangements.

A major sticking point for those groups is the reach of EU law in the region and both may oppose the deal unless they are satisfied the issue of the supremacy of EU law is resolved.

The DUP set seven tests they say must be passed in order for them to return to the power-sharing government.

Speaking at a Coca-Cola factory in Lisburn as he promoted his new deal, Sunak was asked multiple questions about the fact the Northern Ireland Assembly is not sitting.

What Is The Windsor Framework?

It is a new deal struck by Rishi Sunak and the EU that will replace the Northern Ireland protocol.

At the heart of the arrangement is the idea of green lanes and red lanes. British goods staying in NI will use the green lane at ports, meaning they face minimal paperwork.

Goods travelling into Ireland will use the red lane, meaning they face customs processes and other checks at Northern Ireland ports.

A key part of the deal is an emergency “Stormont brake” on changes to EU goods rules that can be pulled by the NI Assembly.

He stressed that his new deal “corrected” the issues and added: “The framework is a fantastic agreement that delivers on all the things people care about. So now I hope that they do see it and see that and they can find a way to come back together.”

He told the audience: “It’s what you deserve.”

“What we’ve done, though, is empower that assembly even more with this new Stormont brake that I talked about,” he said.

“Even more incentive to get back in. So for all the people who said well, we don’t feel like we’ve got enough sovereignty in this situation, that there’s a democratic deficit with this EU – we’ve corrected it.

“We’ve put more power in the hands of Stormont, in those very people.

“But they need to get back in, they need to get put back in so they can use those powers.

“We’ve provided the means now, and I hope that with time and space, they will see that that’s the right way forward.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has welcomed “significant progress” even as he warned that “there remain key issues of concern” regarding the deal.

However, DUP hardliner Ian Paisley Junior said the deal “does not cut the mustard” and is likely to be rejected by the DUP.

Ian Paisley Junior said his “gut instinct” was that the Windsor Framework failed to meet the seven tests the DUP had set for it.


What's Hot