Sunak: We must work night and day to help restore Northern Ireland devolved government

Rishi Sunak has said the Government “stands ready to legislate” to ensure Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s internal market, but only if devolved government is restored. The Stormont Assembly and executive have been effectively collapsed for more than a year-and-a-half amid DUP protest action over unionist concerns around post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Talks have been taking place between the DUP and UK Government but, in the absence of ministers, departments are being led by senior civil servants with limited powers.

Talks have been taking place at Hillsborough Castle over the past three days. Politicians are considering the details of a £2.5billion spending package.

During Prime Minister's questions DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson pushed the prime minister on resolving the issues around the protocol and to put in place the necessary laws.

"The Prime Minister will be aware of unionist concerns about the need to remove the Irish Sea border created by the protocol and that disrupts the UK’s internal market," he said. “Will the Prime Minister bring forward legislation to amend the UK Internal Market Act and both guarantee and futureproof Northern Ireland’s unfettered access to the UK’s internal market in all scenarios?” Mr Sunak replied at Prime Minister’s Questions: “I recognise the need to do more in this area and I can confirm to him that the Government does stand ready to legislate to protect Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom and the UK internal market, alongside an agreement to restore the executive.

“We can do this at pace and I know he and his colleagues are working hard to achieve that. “Our NHS, our police officers, and the most vulnerable in Northern Ireland need devolved government urgently and I think it is incumbent on all of us to work day and night to achieve that.” Downing Street would not give any further details on potential legislation. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “There are discussions ongoing. I don’t, I’m afraid, have more to add at this point.”

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