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Heaton-Harris says the DUP has not come to terms with supporting a Brexit deal

Heaton-Harris says the DUP has not come to terms with supporting a Brexit deal
  • Written by Ian MacDowell
  • BBC News NI

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Chris Heaton-Harris says there will be no renegotiation of Northern Ireland’s new Brexit deal

Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the DUP had “not yet accepted the importance” of voting in support of the new Brexit deal.

His comment comes a day after MPs voted 515 to 29 to support the Windsor Framework Agreement approved by Rishi Sunak.

The DUP voted against it, saying the UK government should make changes to it.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Heaton-Harris said the agreement was “done” and would soon become international law.

“There is no renegotiation of that deal,” he said.

“We will now do everything we can to make this deal work – both us and the EU.”

The joint UK-EU body that oversees Brexit will meet on Friday to ratify the legal changes brought about by the Windsor Framework.

But DUP leader Sir Geoffrey Donaldson said he was “not upset” and would not abandon his campaign for a better deal.

He said Wednesday’s vote in Parliament did not reflect the sentiments of Northern Ireland unionists.

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Sir Geoffrey Donaldson says Windsor’s framework has “an element of sticky plaster”

The Democratic Unionist Union (DUP) has suspended the power-sharing government in Stormont for more than a year to protest the trade rules that were put in place for Northern Ireland in Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

But the DUP said the new deal struck between the UK prime minister and the EU was not enough to agree to bring back its Stormont ministers.

Speaking after meeting Mr. Heaton-Harris at Hillsborough Castle, Sir Geoffrey said he would work with the government to change the deal.

He said, “I’m not an outcast – I never give up in terms of striving for what we need to achieve.”

“The Windsor framework has an element of sticky plaster and it won’t work.

“It will not deliver the long-term stability and prosperity that Northern Ireland needs.”

Heaton Harris met Stormont’s five main parties in Hillsborough to discuss the new Brexit deal as well as Northern Ireland’s public finances, which he said were “definitely not in good shape”.

He said he would have to set the Northern Ireland budget for next year within the next few weeks if the executive was not up and running soon.

“There will be some tough decisions,” he said.

How did the other parties react?

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill said the DUP must “stop their boycott” of Stormont so that executive ministers can gain control of the budget.

O’Neill added that ministers should have been in office to take the case to the Treasury for additional funding for Northern Ireland.

“This budget is about to cause catastrophic damage to public services,” she said.

“So the DUP should get around the table with the rest of us, and make politics work.”

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Michelle O’Neill – pictured with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou MacDonald – says the DUP should “stop their boycott” of Stormont

He said his party had asked the UK government to consider offering a financial package and it seemed “the door is open for that”.

“This is going to require the parties in Northern Ireland to work together and make a very convincing case … to the Treasury,” he said.

“So it builds momentum for the DUP to join the rest of us in ensuring that we have adequate governance here.”

Robbie Butler, a member of the Ulster Union Assembly, said the level of budget cuts “on the brink of rampage at the moment is actually quite worrying”.

He urged the DUP to accept the “difficulties” with the Windsor framework and to “put the people of Northern Ireland first”.

Social Democrat and Labor leader Colum Eastwood said the DUP must accept that it cannot get everything it wants from a no-deal Brexit.

“We have a great opportunity with this [deal] to trade in both [UK and EU] “The markets are not overburdened,” Rep. Foyle said.

“People in Britain will give their right arm to get this opportunity.”