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Goods to flow freely from GB to NI as part of deal to restore Stormont power sharing, says DUP – UK politics live


Donaldson says ‘green lane’ system for goods going from GB to NI will go

Q: Are you really getting rid of all checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland?

Donaldson says, on checks on goods moving from GB to NI and staying in the UK, there will no longer be checks, unless there is a suspicion of criminality.

On customs paperwork, he says supplementary declarations will be gone.

The “green lane” will go, and be replaced by the UK’s internal market system, he says.

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Key events

Here are some more quotes from what Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said in his news conference at Stormont this afternoon.

  • Donaldson, the DUP leader, said that he had confounded critics who claimed his party would never be able to achieve legal changes to the Windsor framework. He said:

Those who said there will be no legal change, who were predicting things would fall short, I simply asked people to wait and see the outcome. Wait and see the evidence and judge for yourself what this deal does, what it delivers, the change that it secures. I believe we are now beginning to see on day one, that delivery coming through.

On checks, on goods, moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and staying within the UK, there will no longer by physical checks, identity checks, save where, as is normal in any part of the UK, there is a suspicion of smuggling, of criminal activity; that is the same for every part of the United Kingdom.

On customs paperwork, customs declarations, supplementary declarations, will be gone and therefore we believe this represents a significant change.

  • And he said the “green lane, a Windsor framework arrangement for goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland and not destined for Ireland, would go. He said:

As far as we are concerned, the green lane will go and be replaced by the UK internal market system that reflects the reality that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, that goods flowing within the United Kingdom, flow freely.

That was our core key objective and I believe what we have secured represents real change and everybody will be able to see it for themselves.

James Crisp from the Telegraph reported on this last week – although he suggested the the rebranding was partly cosmetic.

So offer to DUP, as I understand it, is as follows.

Patriotic rebrand of WF Green Lane to “UK Internal Market Lane”.

All new laws to be screened to ensure they don’t have “significant adverse impact” on GB-NI trade.

Warm words promising to negotiate more cuts with EU
7/

— James Crisp (@JamesCrisp6) January 26, 2024

So offer to DUP, as I understand it, is as follows.

Patriotic rebrand of WF Green Lane to “UK Internal Market Lane”.

All new laws to be screened to ensure they don’t have “significant adverse impact” on GB-NI trade.

Warm words promising to negotiate more cuts with EU

  • He played down the significance of Northern Ireland having a Sinn Féin first minister. Asked how significant it was that people would be serving under a Sinn Féin FM, he replied:

The offices is a joint office [because first minister and deputy FM carry equal weight in decision making]. The DUP has in the past shared that joint office. We are democrats.

The electoral results are there. I wish it had been different, of course. Like any political party you want to win the elections. I hope that from a unionist point of view we are learning the lessons that divisions in unionism, especially at election time, do not win unionist seats.

He also said that he hoped unionism would “get its act together” in future so there were more unionist MLAs at Stormont.

Jeffrey Donaldson holding a press conference at Stormont this afternoon Photograph: Sky News

Downing Street has said that the draft update to the Windsor framework published today (see 4.03pm) is not the same as the deal to restore power sharing at Stormont.

Asked about the document published today, a No 10 spokesperson told journalists at the afternoon lobby briefing:

That is not part of this agreement. This is separate – this is an update on some separate work we have been working on with the European Commission.

This is a joint legal solution that will benefit Northern Ireland traders. But to be clear, this is a separate stream of work from the agreement that was discussed last night and that will be published tomorrow.

Asked to explain what the revisions to the framework mean, the spokesperson said:

This is a joint legal solution agreed with the European Commission. It will ensure Northern Ireland traders can benefit from the UK’s independent free trade policy when importing agri-food goods.

There are lot of technical details. It will mean that over 30,000 tonnes of lamb, beef and poultry from key FTA (free trade agreement) partners and other countries around the world will now be covered by the UK and not the EU’s tariff quota regime every year.

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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, posted this comment on X on Raoul Ruparel’s thread. (See 4.03pm.)

This demonstrates that the naysayers are wrong. There will be legal changes. I asked people to wait and study the outcome rather than follow misinformed speculation. There is more to come. The @duponline is delivering real change. @GRobinsonDUP https://t.co/xZCRH9OAFk

— Jeffrey Donaldson MP (@J_Donaldson_MP) January 30, 2024

This demonstrates that the naysayers are wrong. There will be legal changes. I asked people to wait and study the outcome rather than follow misinformed speculation. There is more to come. The @duponline is delivering real change.

The UK government has not yet published a clear summary of its deal with the DUP. It says that this is coming tomorrow.

But it has published a draft decision from the withdrawal agreement joint committee, the UK-EU committee that oversees implementation of the agreement taking the UK out of the EU. And this sets out changes to the agreement that have been negotiated.

And here is commentary on the deal from Raoul Ruparel, who was immersed in Northern Ireland protocol issues when he worked in No 10 as Theresa May’s adviser on the EU. He has posted these on X.

🚨Something unexpected on NI🚨…new Joint Committee legal decision expanding ‘not at risk’ category to cover rest of world imports into NI. Definitely a win for DUP & UK. Also very firmly flies in face of those who said there would be no legal changes 1/ https://t.co/YNOlLl3WJU

— Raoul Ruparel (@RaoulRuparel) January 30, 2024

Something unexpected on NI🚨…new Joint Committee legal decision expanding ‘not at risk’ category to cover rest of world imports into NI. Definitely a win for DUP & UK. Also very firmly flies in face of those who said there would be no legal changes 1/

While EU won’t call it this, to me this reads as a legal change under existing Windsor Framework. Will change how green lane operates & allows NI to more firmly take advantage of UK FTAs. 2/

Credit to HMG team & DUP for pushing on this sort of thing. Lots said its impossible but will again help on margin to get Stormont restored which is crucial for NI. 3/

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Donaldson plays down significance of NI having Sinn Féin first minster, saying they had equal power with deputy FM job

Q: How significant will it be having a Sinn Féin first minister?

Donaldson says it is a joint office (the first minister and deputy first minister have equal weight in decision making). He says Sinn Féin has held that joint office before. He says he wishes the DUP had done better at the elections, but he is a democrat, he says.

Q: Could the executive return by Saturday?

Donaldson says that depends on what happens, and when the government moves legislation.

He says he expects Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary, to make a statement tomorrow.

Donaldson says there are some people who talked tough on this issue, but delivered nothing. The DUP has delivered, he claims.

Donaldson says ‘green lane’ system for goods going from GB to NI will go

Q: Are you really getting rid of all checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland?

Donaldson says, on checks on goods moving from GB to NI and staying in the UK, there will no longer be checks, unless there is a suspicion of criminality.

On customs paperwork, he says supplementary declarations will be gone.

The “green lane” will go, and be replaced by the UK’s internal market system, he says.

Updated at 

Jeffrey Donaldson holds press conference

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, is holding a press conference at Stormont.

He says all those who said that he would not be able to secure a change in how the post-Brexit trade rules work in Northern Ireland will see that they are wrong when the deal is published.

After the deal is published, there should be legislation, he suggested.

And if the agreed timeline with the UK government is met, the institutions in Northern Ireland will reconvene.

He says the DUP and other parties have met with civil servants in Northern Ireland to discuss the resumption of power sharing, including what might happen with public sector pay.

And they have also discussed the priorities for the executive going ahead, he says.

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Alliance leader Naomi Long says institutional reform at Stormont now ‘essential’

The Alliance party, which is the third largest party in the Northern Ireland assembly and not aligned to either the nationalist or unionist community, has said that institutional reform at Stormont is essential following the two-year suspension of power sharing.

Naomi Long, the Alliance leader, said the sooner the institutions were reformed, the better.

But she said:

What is clear is that given the fragility of relationships, not just between the parties, but inside some parties, if we are going to have stable institutions, the government now needs to engage seriously on the issue of reform of these institutions.

They simply cannot withstand another collapse.

Stop-go government will not work and we have to address that issue.

She also posted this on X.

Mixed emotions today.

Good we might finally get to do the whole job we’re elected to do and try to repair some of the damage done, but the last 24 hours don’t bode well for long-term stability.

Institutional reform is essential: we just cannot sustain further chaos or collapse.

Mixed emotions today.

Good we might finally get to do the whole job we’re elected to do and try to repair some of the damage done, but the last 24 hours don’t bode well for long-term stability.

Institutional reform is essential: we just cannot sustain further chaos or collapse.

— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) January 30, 2024

Naomi Long Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

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Former DUP leader Edwin Poots claims ‘significant portion of Northern Ireland protocol dismantled’ under new deal

Edwin Poots, who was DUP leader for just three weeks in 2021 before being replaced by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, told Radio 4’s the World at One that a significant part of the Northern Ireland protocol would be dismantled under the deal struck with the UK government.

He said that he had read the government’s (as yet unpublished) command paper setting out the details and he explained:

Essentially there’s a significant portion of the Northern Ireland protocol that’s been dismantled and the UK internal market between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been restored, and the barriers and impediments to doing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been removed.

There’ll be no checks and it’s for traders to register once. Once that registration is made, they will be able to bring goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The only checks that will be on those goods that remain in Northern Ireland will be the normal criminality checks.

Edwin Poots. Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

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Here is a Guardian video with clips summarising the DUP announcement about accepting the UK government’s Windsor framework deal and resuming power sharing.

Protests at Stormont as DUP agrees deal to restore Northern Ireland power sharing – video report

Rishi Sunak and his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, have spoken today about the deal with the DUP. We have not had the No 10 readout yet, but a spokesperson for Varadkar said:

The taoiseach and prime minister welcomed the developments overnight, and both leaders said they hope this paves the way for the early restoration of the Northern Ireland executive and the assembly, and that north-south ministerial meetings will resume again.

They agreed to keep in touch over the coming period.

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Here is Lisa O’Carroll’s explainer on what is likely to be in the government’s deal with the DUP.

And here is an extract.

What is in the deal?

Donaldson said it would end “dynamic alignment” whereby future changes in EU law would have to be observed in Northern Ireland.

Pending the deal’s publication on Wednesday, it appears that Sunak has offered to keep Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) aligned with European standards if the DUP returned to Stormont.

All new laws at Westminster would be checked to ensure they did not compromise unfettered trade with Northern Ireland, meaning no separate rules or labels for goods that remain in the region.

Does that mean the UK will remain closer to Brussels?

It appears that the deal is a dusting down of proposals Theresa May made in 2019 to align rules for Ireland with those in the UK, thereby removing the need for what because known as the Brexit sea border.

This compromise was rejected by the Conservatives, whose policies were then shaped by convulsions about sovereignty, taking back control of British law and a clean-break Brexit.

How can Sunak sell this?

He can argue that the alignment with EU law is limited and applies to goods and farm produce and not wider issues such as the rule of law and other national competencies such as health, education, security, justice.

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