Interim DUP leader Gavin Robinson says sea border will go with 'faithful' implementation of deal

Interim DUP leader Gavin Robinson has said the Irish sea border "will go" with faithful implementation of the deal agreed with the UK government.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson offered to resign his position as DUP leader and was not forced into the decision, the party's interim leader has said.

Gavin Robinson told View from Stormont that the Lagan Valley MP recognised that his resignation "was appropriate in the circumstance," after he was charged with historical sex offences.

Mr Robinson also said that the Irish sea border "will go" on "the basis of faithful implementation of the agreement that we reached [with the UK Government]".

In a wide-ranging interview with the programme, Mr Robinson discussed the future of the DUP after Sir Jeffrey's departure as party leader.

Sir Jeffrey quit on Good Friday after being charged with historical sexual offences. He has said he will strenuously contest the charges.

The charges brought about his shock resignation of the leadership of the largest party in unionism, with party deputy leader Mr Robinson's assumption of interim leadership. The party also suspended Sir Jeffrey's membership.

Mr Robinson said that he had not had any contact with his former colleague and leader since Good Friday, other than a text message on "constituency issues" and did not intend to have any further contact pending the outcome of the legal process.

He said Sir Jeffrey was not forced or pressed to resign by the party.

"He volunteered to resign. There was a recognition that that was appropriate in the circumstances.

"And a recognition that the party would have processes that it would have to follow. And we did so to the letter of our rules. "

The interim DUP leader added that the party will run a candidate in Sir Jeffrey's current constituency of Lagan Valley in any upcoming general election.

He added that he did not know if Sir Jeffery intended to run as a non-DUP candidate, however he said he believes there is no intention for the former leader to stand in a forthcoming election.

Mr Robinson added that such a decision was ultimately for Sir Jeffrey to make.

Mr Robinson also confirmed he would be a candidate in any future leadership contest within the DUP. Although he said the matter of any leadership contest would be an internal matter for the party.

On the matter of the Irish sea border - which forced the party to boycott the Stormont institutions for two years - he said had it had "not yet" gone. Previously Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the border had been removed - which had brought criticism.

Mr Robinson said that the deal with the UK Government was "intricate", and the result of years of negotiation.

"Don't try to distill it down to something that is simplistic and not nuanced enough.

"What have we got so far already? We've got a commitment to the creation of the UK internal market system, a system that will have no checks on goods moving from GB to NI.

"Parliament has already legislated on goods standards, on east-west and west-east movements.

"Parliament two weeks ago had legislation laid to allow the Secretary of State to assume power, and when he does that, he will take the power to direct no checks on goods moving between GB to NI."

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