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Belfast, March 21 – Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it would vote against a key part of the UK government’s new post-Brexit trade deal in Parliament this week.
Whilst representing real progress, the “Stormont Brake” does not deal with the fundamental issue which is the imposition of European Union (EU) law by the Northern Ireland Protocol, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said in a statement on Monday.
As a central element of the new deal, the “Stormont Brake” means the Northern Ireland Assembly can oppose new EU goods rules that would have significant and lasting effects on everyday lives in Northern Ireland.
“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,” Donaldson said.
In February, the UK and the EU concluded a new post-Brexit trade arrangement for Northern Ireland after long negotiations. Dubbed the “Windsor Framework”, the deal aims to ease the trading issues created by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Northern Ireland’s political parties broadly support the framework but have questioned how the “Stormont Brake” will operate, according to a research briefing published by Parliament on Saturday.
The DUP has previously said it will only support new arrangements if they meet “seven tests”, including no border in the Irish Sea between Britain and Northern Ireland and no checks on goods going in either direction, the briefing recalled.
In opposition to post-Brexit trade rules in the region, the DUP has refused to join the power-sharing government at Stormont (Northern Ireland Assembly) for more than a year, raising concerns over political stability.