Deal which restored Stormont protects NI’s place within the Union – Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he believed the deal his Government struck with the DUP to restore devolved government at Stormont has succeeded in protecting Northern Ireland’s place within the Union.
Asked if the deal future-proofed Northern Ireland from divergence between UK and EU trading rules, Mr Sunak said the Stormont brake element of the Windsor Framework could now be used by MLAs.
Mr Sunak visited Northern Ireland to mark the return of the Stormont Assembly. Following meetings with political leaders earlier in the day, he travelled to Glencraig Integrated Primary School in Co Down where he chatted with staff and pupils.
The institutions in Northern Ireland were restored after a deal between Mr Sunak’s Government and the DUP to address unionist concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements, which included passing new legislation at Westminster.
Asked if the deal protected Northern Ireland from future trade divergence, Mr Sunak said: “We have worked very hard and, I believe, succeeded in protecting Northern Ireland’s place in our Union and building on what we achieved with the Windsor Framework to ensure the smooth flow of trade within the United Kingdom.
“And to ensure all the benefits that are there as a result of Brexit can be seized.
“That’s the deal that we struck, that’s what the Windsor Framework delivers, that’s what all our conversations have been and I am confident that not only will people start to see the benefits of that very quickly, but crucially now, with the Executive up and running, the democratic safeguards that we negotiated as part of the Windsor Framework can now actually be used.
“The most important thing is that the people of Northern Ireland are in charge of their own destiny, because of the Stormont brake in particular, an Executive up and running can use those powers.”
The Stormont brake is a mechanism designed to allow elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly to raise an objection to a new EU goods rule.
Mr Sunak also said people in Northern Ireland wanted to see the new powersharing Executive focusing on delivering for their needs.
He said: “I am very confident on the basis of all the meetings I have had this morning and yesterday, people are looking forward, they are not looking backwards.
“They see this as a really important moment for the people of Northern Ireland, the Executive back up and running after a long amount of time of working through people’s concerns, making sure we could address those, I believe we have.
“That’s why you have seen the Executive restored.
“Now, actually the focus is not on any of those things, the focus is consistently and unanimously on delivering for the people of Northern Ireland and that means specifically on the day-to-day issues, like the NHS. That is what everyone’s focus is on right now.
“I am confident there is unanimity that is and should be the focus and that has very much been the tone of the meetings today.”
He added: “I think many, if not most people, thought we wouldn’t actually see this moment come so I think it is a cause for optimism.
“That is the spirit I’ve picked up in all my conversations and meetings yesterday and today.
“I think this is an important and significant, if not historic day for the people of Northern Ireland.
“The Executive back up and running and the new deal we’ve arranged means they will have more funding and powers than ever before to deliver for families and businesses across Northern Ireland.”
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