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The UK Government will provide the DUP with NI status due to concerns over the Supreme Court ruling

The UK Government will provide the DUP with NI status due to concerns over the Supreme Court ruling

The government is to seek to allay the DUP’s concerns about the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as part of an effort to persuade the party to sign a new Brexit deal.

Northern Ireland’s Chris Heaton-Harris stressed that the shape of the Windsor Framework Agreement the UK has reached with the EU is in the “right space” but said the government could take other action to reassure unionists who still have doubts about the new proposals for Ireland Maritime trade.

Mr. Heaton-Harris is currently in Washington with political leaders from across Ireland as part of traditional St. Patrick’s Day commitments.

I really care about people asking questions about what Windsor Framework actually brings because those are the right questions to ask and I hope to answer them in great detail

Chris Heaton-Harris

The DUP is currently blocking devolution in Stormont in protest of trade barriers between the UK and NI created by the controversial Brexit protocol for Northern Ireland.

While the party says the Windsor framework has gone some way to address its concerns about the protocol, it says it fails to address some “fundamental issues”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who is also in Washington, is now seeking further clarifications and reassurances from the UK government to address his party’s lingering concerns.

Sir Jeffrey told the PA news agency that his party needed to see the shape of the legislation planned by the government before making a final decision on the framework.

The Government has already committed to passing legislation to emphasize Northern Ireland’s place in the UK by amending the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

It also intends to pass legislation to implement the Windsor Framework’s “Stormont brake” mechanism, which would allow a minority of MLAs in Stormont to formally raise concerns about the imposition of new EU rules in Northern Ireland – a move that could see the Government veto their introduction in the region.

As for trying to secure the status of Northern Ireland in the UK, Mr Heaton-Harris said the government could address issues arising from last month’s UK high court ruling.

In February, the High Court rejected a complaint brought by a collective of trade unionists who argued that the national legislation underlying the Northern Ireland Protocol conflicted with the 1800 Acts of Union that created the United Kingdom, in particular Article 6 of this statute guaranteeing unrestricted trade within the United Kingdom.

The Supreme Court found that although Art. 6 of the Acts of the Union was “modified” by the Protocol, it was done with the express will of the sovereign parliament, and therefore it was lawful.

The DUP and other trade unionists highlighted the judgment as evidence that the Brexit deal subjugated the terms of the Acts of Union and, as a result, undermined Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

In an interview with the PA News Agency in Washington, Heaton-Harris said the DUP was right to seek reassurances from the government.

“We have a deal with the European Union and actually I think most people think that part of the deal is in the right place,” he said.

“But there are some things that come out of a Supreme Court judgment not too long ago where we can say a bit more about Northern Ireland’s place in the Union and indeed how parts of the Windsor Framework will actually work in practice, and they are the right questions to be asked ask the UK government, we hope to be able to respond appropriately.”

Mr Heaton-Harris added: “Northern Ireland politicians are rightly asking the right questions about how the Windsor Framework will work, how it will benefit all communities in Northern Ireland, how it will benefit businesses in Northern Ireland, how it makes Northern Ireland a place in the Union that is a bit safer for the future. How it works with the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, which it absolutely does. These are the right questions to ask.”

The Northern Ireland secretary said the government did not want to “bounce” the DUP into accepting the framework, but said he remained optimistic about the “positive outlook” for the deal.

“The trade union community I know has felt rejected in the past and we absolutely don’t want to do that this time,” he said.

“We want people to come to a thoughtful view. Personally, I think this thoughtful view will be a positive outlook on Windsor Framework and I really want people to ask questions about what Windsor Framework really brings because these are the right questions to ask and I hope you answer on them in great detail.”

I have come to Washington with a very clear message that while the Windsor framework represents significant progress, there is still much to be done and therefore we need to familiarize ourselves with the legislation

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey said any legislation should restore Northern Ireland’s rights under the Acts of Union.

“I came to Washington with a very clear message that while the Windsor Framework represents significant progress, there is still a long way to go and that is why we need to get to grips with the legislation,” he said.

“We need to see what the UK Government intends to do in terms of implementing this framework to ensure that Northern Ireland’s place in the UK is adequately protected and our rights under Article Six of the Act of Union are restored.”

Speaking to the PA, he added: “I think we need legislation linked to the Windsor Framework because the framework is the outline, we need the details, the legal text, the legislation that will actually implement this so that we can ensure that Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and its market are adequately protected. internal”.

Last week, Mr Heaton-Harris suggested the government would be “obliged” to veto any bill if the Stormont brake element of the new Windsor deal was activated.

Some Stormont parties have expressed concern whether his comments indicate the brake will lead to a powerful MLA minority veto.


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