Will the DUP and UK Government reach a deal on the Windsor Framework?

By Eden Wilson and James McNaney

The Windsor Framework has been live for over a week with 'red' and 'green lanes' now operating at Northern Ireland's ports. The Prime Minister is clear the Framework will not change, despite the DUP's objections and continued boycott of Stormont's power sharing institutions. But Rishi Sunak has said there may be flexibilities around its implementation

DUP deputy leader Gavin Robinson MP said that while the party has welcomed "progress" made in the Windsor Framework, "there is still work to be done".

He told View From Stormont: "We're engaged with the government about addressing those issues... about removing the friction of trade, repairing the constitutional harm and removing the democratic deficit.

"Until we get a solution to those issues, there will be no basis for progress."

Commentator Alex Kane believes that the DUP Leader has to "square a circle" in finding the right deal.

Political commentator Alex Kane believes that the DUP may be approaching a "key decision" with regards to any potential deal.

"It seems fairly clear the DUP are not pooh poohing the idea that they're expecting something in the next few days, probably over the conference period, from the Prime Minister.

"My instinct will be it's the final offer. I don't think this is going to run on and on and on.

"And I think there's one thing that all the politicians need to realise, not just the DUP, but all of the politicians up there... that what is running out in Northern Ireland is expectation and hope."

The DUP has repeatedly said that it will judge any proposals against its seven tests. But the key question is whether or not Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will have the support of his party for any deal.

The DUP leader would also need to win over other factions of unionism, including the TUV, Orange Order and the LCC.

Grand Secretary of the Orange Order Mervyn Gibson believes there are two key areas of concern that must be addressed.

Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, Mervyn Gibson, told View From Stormont that there is a 'broad church of opinions' within the Order but that two main issues need addressed.

"The Irish Sea border with regard particularly the green lane now... the optics of having to go through a green lane when you live in the United Kingdom, the optics of getting posts and customs declarations when you live in the United Kingdom... we're not being treated the same as the rest of the United Kingdom and that needs sorted.

"Another is the EU having a say on laws and guidelines over the population of Northern Ireland. If those two issues are addressed, I think the majority of our members will be happy enough to see the Assembly restored."

UUP leader Doug Beattie says he wants to make changes to the Framework within a devolved government.

And there are other voices within political unionism to consider as well, not least the leader of the second largest unionist party, Doug Beattie.

The Upper Bann MLA said the DUP's plan cannot just be a boycott "with nothing at the end of it".

"We can also make sure that the green lanes are more green. In other words, they don't exist. It's just trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

"And the only lane we have is a red lane. And the red lane is because goods are going on to the European Union. So there are things that government can do to make life easier.

"My argument is I can argue that same point, but I want to do it within a government."

TUV Leader Jim Allister says there is nothing the Prime Minister can offer in negotiations that would change his position on the Framework.

The TUV leader Jim Allister doesn't share this perspective, saying that the Prime Minister can offer no flexibilities that will change his mind on the Windsor Framework.

"It puts us in a position where we're no longer a full part of the UK, where we are a detached part, where Great Britain is a foreign country in terms of trade, where much of our economy, our trade, our border are ruled by foreign laws, not local laws and we are increasingly being aligned economically with the Irish Republic.

"Unless those fundamentals have changed, then you can tinker until the cows come home, it's not going to make a button of difference the the fundamental constitutional assault that the Windsor Framework is upon our position in the United Kingdom."

There's no doubt Sir Jeffrey Donaldson faces a big decision in the coming weeks.

He must finalise a deal with the government which will pass his party's tests, which will to be difficult considering the Prime Minister has insisted he will not renegotiate the Windsor Framework.

However doing the deal might be the easy part, it will be selling it (including to his own party) which will be more of a challenge.

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