Truss and Sunak bring Tory leadership campaign to Northern Ireland

Conservative Party leadership contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have both pledged to “fix” the Northern Ireland Protocol and progress a controversial government bill aimed at overriding parts of the trade deal.

Both candidates were in Belfast on Wednesday, battling for votes from party members, as part of a hustings event.

They discussed a range of topics with delegates including the restoration of power-sharing at Stormont, the protocol, abortion and the cost-of-living crisis.

They both indicated it would take time to get the NI Protocol bill passed into law.

There are around 600 Conservative Party members in Northern Ireland who can vote for the next party leader and prime minister.

The DUP has refused to nominate a speaker or join an executive since the Assembly election in May until its concerns over the protocol have been resolved.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is currently progressing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill through Parliament.

On Wednesday she told Conservative colleagues that as the legislation progresses, she believes devolution will be restored.

"As we make progress on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill we will see power sharing re-established in Northern Ireland, and as well the Belfast Good Friday Agreement re-established."

Ms Truss added: “We’ve been talking about cost of living, energy, we need a government in Northern Ireland to be doing that.

“So, I will be asking them to get back around the table and for a government.”

Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor, reiterated his commitment to the progression of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, but said “it will take time”.

He added that he will "do what it takes to fix the protocol and protect Northern Ireland’s place in our United Kingdom.”

Mr Sunak also added that he was open to talk to the European Union to try and resolve outstanding issues. 

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.