DUP to vote against Windsor Framework's 'Stormont Brake' mechanism in Commons

The DUP has confirmed it will be voting against the 'Stormont Brake,' in the Commons.

That is the mechanism in the Windsor Framework designed to give the Stormont Assembly a veto of future EU laws.

Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that while there had been "real progress the 'brake' does not deal with the fundamental issue which is the imposition of EU law by the Protocol."

He said the main concerns were that the brake would not deal with existing EU laws.

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill has said the Windsor Declaration is done, and the onus is now on the governments and parties to get devolved government in Northern Ireland moving.

"The deal is done & huge economic opportunities are before us," she tweeted.

"The Brexit Joint Committee meets 24 March to adopt the deal into EU law & we move onto implementation stage.

"The onus is on the British & Irish Governments & all parties - not least the DUP to now get Stormont moving."

The DUP has set up a panel to examine all aspects of the Windsor Framework.

The party met on Monday to discuss the veto mechanism in the deal as details of it are to be laid in parliament on Monday ahead of a vote on Wednesday.

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.

Sir Jeffrey said: "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. "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."

Sir Jeffrey said the party unanimously agreed that in the context of their ongoing concerns and the need for further clarity and a reworking of the deal, they would vote against the draft statutory instrument on Wednesday. He added: "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.”

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 "fundamental problems" remain with the new accord.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has defended the Government's approach to Wednesday's Commons vote on the key element of Rishi Sunak's new deal with the EU.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We think this is the right approach, allowing MPs to have their say on what we believe to be the most significant elements of the framework.

"This framework secures changes which many individuals and groups said weren't possible. The Stormont brake is chief among them.

"With regard to EU regulation, these have been reduced right down to the very minimum level to ensure there is no border on the island of Ireland.

"I think that is the overriding priority of all parties in protecting and securing the Good Friday Agreement."

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