From Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP <[email protected]>
Subject Determined to secure further progress.
Date November 25, 2023 7:59 AM
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Good morning John

Last Wednesday was a very busy day in the House of Commons. Beyond the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time, we had the Autumn Statement from the Chancellor but also from 11:30 until mid-day, MPs had an opportunity to hold our Secretary of State accountable during Northern Ireland Question Time. This is a thirty-minute period every few weeks (the previous NIQs was 6 September due to Party Conference recess) in the Commons, when Northern Ireland Office Ministers answer questions about their responsibilities.

I had the opportunity to ask two questions. With the first question I focused on our discussions with the Government about restoring Northern Ireland’s place in the UK Internal Market and then on the second question I voiced the need for continued funding support for flood hit victims and businesses across Northern Ireland.
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The reaction to my Internal Market question was wide and varied. I am most mystified by those who argue that there was no need to withdraw from the Executive to bring matters to a head. This is revisionism rather than reality.

Let’s be quite clear, without the DUP’s decisive action in February 2022, Brussels would never have come back to the table. Remember we had been campaigning for two years about the fact that not one unionist MLA supported the NI Protocol but we were repeatedly told the Protocol would be “rigorously implemented”. Indeed, the Alliance Party, Sinn Fein and the SDLP supported such calls from Brussels.

There comes a time when people are not listening that you must take far-reaching steps to get their attention. That’s what this Party had to do in February 2022. It is because of our preparedness to swim against the tide that people vote for us. They know we will stand strong when it matters.

Having people back at the table however is not enough. We want to get an outcome that Unionists as well as Nationalists can support. By so doing, we will have a solid basis for Northern Ireland to move forward.

Traders moving goods from one part of the United Kingdom to another should not have onerous and costly checks. These goods are ultimately staying in Northern Ireland and pose no risk to the EU single market. The Green Lane as outlined within the Windsor Framework, was not acceptable or practical.

The default route for goods moving from GB to NI should be through the UK’s own Internal Market system. And within that system, goods should move smoothly. It is simply not right that within the UK, businesses and traders who pose no threat of criminality or smuggling, or disease should have their goods subject to inspections.

Whilst some are fixated with timelines, we are not calendar led. We are single-mindedly focused on our aims and objectives. We are determined to secure further progress.

Our objectives include, restoring and future-proofing in law our Article 6 rights under the Acts of Union, thus ensuring our ability to trade freely within the UK Internal Market, as well as securing further measures that will strengthen Northern Ireland’s place within the Union.

Thank you for staying the course and your continued support.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader
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