David Young (PA)
The DUP will oppose the Government in this week’s first parliamentary vote on the new Windsor Framework Brexit deal.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said DUP officers met on Monday morning and unanimously agreed to vote against the first aspect of the Windsor Framework to be considered by Parliament, the Stormont brake.
The brake would allow a minority of MLAs at Stormont to formally flag concerns about the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland – a move that could see the UK Government veto their introduction in the region.
The first Commons vote on the EU/UK agreement on trading arrangements for Northern Ireland will take place on Wednesday.
The vote will be on secondary legislation that would give effect to the Stormont brake.
The DUP is currently blocking devolution at Stormont in protest at the terms of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol was designed to prevent a hardening of the land border on the island of Ireland and moved regulatory and customs checks to the Irish Sea, creating economic barriers on the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The UK and EU agreed the framework as a way to cut the red tape created by the protocol.
While the DUP says the Windsor Framework has gone some way to address its concerns about the protocol, it says some significant problems remain with the new accord.
Announcing the party’s intention ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Sir Jeffrey said: “Since the announcement that the Stormont brake is to be debated and voted upon in Parliament on Wednesday, there have been a number of indications that this vote will be read as indicative of current positions on the wider Windsor Framework package.
“Our party officers, the only decision-making mechanism in our party on these matters, met this morning and unanimously agreed that in the context of our ongoing concerns and the need to see further progress secured whilst continuing to seek clarification, change and re-working, that our Members of Parliament would vote against the draft statutory instrument on Wednesday.
“We will continue to work with the Government on all the outstanding issues relating to the Windsor Framework package to try to restore the delicate political balances within Northern Ireland and to seek to make further progress on all these matters.”
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the framework does not deal with some of the “fundamental problems at the heart of our current difficulties”.
“It is our party view that there remain key areas of concern which require further clarification, re-working and change as well as seeing further legal text,” the DUP leader added.
“There is no doubt it is vital that the Northern Ireland Assembly must have at its disposal democratic mechanisms that are effective in law and which underscore the role of the locally elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland to determine whether amended or new laws are implemented.
“Notwithstanding the issues and conditions which have to be met to make the brake work, it remains the case that the brake is not designed for, and therefore cannot apply, to the EU law which is already in place and for which no consent has been given for its application.
“Whilst representing real progress, the brake does not deal with the fundamental issue which is the imposition of EU law by the protocol.”