DUP threatens Brexit crisis in first public verdict on EU deal

Boris Johnson criticises Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland

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DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has released an initial appraisal of the Government’s new Windsor Framework. He says that while the agreement with the EU “undoubtedly” represents significant progress across a number of areas, it does “not deal with some of the fundamental problems at the heart of our current difficulties”.

He says his current assessment is that there remain “key areas of concern which require further legal clarification, re-working and change as well as seeing further legal text”.

He said: “There are a number of elements requiring UK Government domestic legislation, the drafts of which have not yet been published.”

The party has provided a list of “key areas of concern” with the deal as it currently stands.

The concerns include the fact the new framework doesn’t “adequately remedy the harm done” by the current Northern Ireland protocol, namely Northern Ireland’s ability to trade with the rest of the United Kingdom.

The party also wants the Government to further reduce trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, above and beyond those achieved by the Windsor Framework.

Sir Jeffrey argues that the proposed “Green Lane” for goods only travelling between the GB and NI needs “greater clarity” on how it will operate in practice.

Finally, the DUP believes that the so-called “Stormont Brake” – the right of the Northern Ireland assembly to block new EU laws that apply to Northern Ireland – must be effective in law, and allow members of the NI Assembly to determine whether amended or new laws are implemented.

Sir Jeffrey concluded his statement by noting 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.”

Yesterday Joe Biden confirmed he’s planning to visit Northern Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

Responding to Rishi Sunak’s invitation, President Biden joked, “Twenty-five years? It seems like yesterday.”

This morning senior Tory Brexiteers accused the PM 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.

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Sir Bill warned Rishi Sunak that refusing MPs “meaningful input” into the new agreement could risk being seen as a “faith accompli”.

Responding to the Select Committee’s accusations, a source from the powerful group of Brexiteer MPs the European Research Group (ERG) told the Daily Express 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.

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