After weeks of examining the Windsor Framework, the DUP is beginning to signal greater dissatisfaction with an agreement aimed at resolving post-Brexit trade issues and restoring governance in Northern Ireland, which could prompt Tory rebels to confront the prime minister.
Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland does not fix the protocol’s “fundamental problems,” according to the DUP.
Before Wednesday’s crucial Commons vote, the unionist party issued a new Windsor Framework evaluation.
“There is more work to be done” to address the issues that led to the dissolution of powersharing in Stormont. The DUP said in a statement that is not an official verdict on whether it will support the agreement.
“The Windsor Framework does not address a number of the fundamental issues at the heart of our current difficulties.”
“The government has framed Wednesday’s debate as a validation of the framework as a whole”.
According to our current evaluation, there are still critical areas of concern that require further clarification, reworking, and amendment, as well as additional legal text.
“We will continue our engagement with the government and urge the prime minister not to rush through a deal that does not address all the fundamental issues.”
The DUP is presently obstructing devolution at Stormont as a protest against the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed to by Boris Johnson as part of his “baked in the oven” Brexit deal.
Mr. Johnson has already signaled that he may not vote for the Windsor Framework in the House of Representatives. Which could influence other Conservative lawmakers.
The Protocol was intended to prevent the reintroduction of a hard border on the island of Ireland, but it led to the establishment of trade barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, effectively establishing a customs frontier across the Irish Sea.
The Windsor Framework, negotiated by Rishi Sunak last month, aims to address the most pressing issues by reducing red tape on products and granting local politicians a greater say over EU regulations that remain in the region.
The DUP must back powersharing in Northern Ireland, which has been without a government for over a year.
Following weeks of scrutiny, the party’s statement is not the only indication of discontent.
Deal ‘does not measure up’
Ian Paisley, a senior member of the DUP, announced on Monday that he will vote against the government this week and implied that his colleagues will do the same.
He said the framework failed seven DUP tests before they will back an agreement and return to government.
“I will vote categorically against, and it would surprise me if none of my colleagues join me,” he told The News Letter.
“After studying it and at least one legal opinion on it, going through the details, and conversing with and sending communications to the Secretary of State, I am still of the opinion that it does not address any of our seven tests.
It is the same old substance wrapped in a new package and tied with a bow. But it does not resolve the fundamental issue of Northern Ireland trade disruption in our internal UK market.
Many Tory Euroskeptics are waiting to see what the DUP says about the framework before deciding whether to support the government in light of Mr. Sunak’s remarks.
The vote on Wednesday will be on a statutory instrument to implement the Stormont brake, which, according to Downing Street, is the “most significant” element of the agreement.
The mechanism would enable a minority of Stormont MLAs to formally raise objections to the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland, a move that could result in the UK government blocking their implementation in the region.
Minister “confident that vote will pass”
The government has proposed the restraint as a solution to the so-called “democratic deficit” that Euroskeptics claim has arisen as a result of Northern Ireland is subject to Brussels’ rules to engage in free trade with the Republic of Ireland.
Minister of the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden told, “I am confident that the vote will be successful and pass. And I hope we will do so with the support of the DUP, but ultimately that is their decision.”
Labour has also stated that it will support the regulations on Wednesday.
“I believe it is a step forward, and we will support it,” said shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy after Mr. Dowden.
“Rishi Sunak is willing to begin cleaning up some of his messes. We won’t criticize him for that, and there’s no doubt that this is now an imperative matter.
For a long time, our top goal has been reducing friction and impediments on Ireland.