Pro-Brexit Unionists Won’t Be ‘Pushed’ Into Decision on Northern Ireland-EU Deal, DUP Leader Says

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 17: DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson talks to the med
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The leader of the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said that it will not be “pushed” into making a decision on whether to accept the new EU-UK agreement on Northern Ireland.

Jeffrey Donaldson MP, the leader of the DUP, has said that his pro-UK unionist party will not be “pushed” or “rushed” into making a decision on the newly agreed Brexit agreement between the UK and EU.

Titled the Windsor Framework, the deal aims to replace the previously agreed Northern Ireland Protocol between the two powers, with this previous deal being seen to leave the disputed territory within the control of the European Union rather than outside the bloc like the rest of the United Kingdom.

This in turn greatly upset many Northern Ireland unionists and hardline Brexiteers, who saw the agreement as a betrayal by the Boris Johnson government, as well as ultimately cutting off the region from the single economy in Britain.

Authorities in Westminster are now trying to bill this new deal as solving the issues brought about by the Northern Ireland protocol, with officials in Britain, Ireland and the rest of Europe expressing hope that the framework will serve as a way of easing tensions in a region historically prone to ethnic violence.

However, according to a report by POLITICO, the DUP — the chief opposition to the original protocol in Northern Ireland — are not sure if they are happy with the new agreement yet, telling the media that they will need to take time to go over the text of the deal before making a decision on it.

“It has taken months to get to this point and we will not be rushed, will not be pushed into a hasty decision,” Donaldson reportedly said regarding the agreement.

The leader went on to say that it was clear that “significant progress has been secured” with the reworked agreement, though expressed concern that in some sectors of Northern Ireland, EU law will remain applicable.

Such a continued application of EU law in the disputed region is likely to be a sticking point for Northern Ireland’s pro-British population, with there being near-existential fears within the community that the territory is slowly being cut off from the rest of the UK.

Continuing to be subject to the whims of the EU and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is especially worrying for this community, with some fearing that they are slowly being brought in line with the independent Irish republic, which remains within the European Union.

However, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has seemingly tried to bill this continued application of EU law in the region as not being a bug, but a feature of the agreement which will economically benefit Northern Ireland, giving it a foot in both economic camps.

“Remember this – Northern Ireland has this very special position where it has access to the UK market, has access to the EU market, which makes it an incredibly attractive place to invest for businesses,” Sunak is reported as saying regarding the deal, adding that the potential for business growth is just “sitting there”, waiting for unionists in the region to accept the EU’s terms and conditions for business.

Although the DUP have yet to respond to Sunak’s suggestion, the Prime Minister’s sales pitch does not seem to have convinced more hardline unionists in Northern Ireland, who have expressed serious concerns regarding the level of control that the EU will continue to have over Northern Ireland.

“It is clear that EU law stays. It is clear, therefore, that the [European Court of Justice] stays,” Jim Allister, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party, said in a video posted online.

Allister went on to criticise the new deal for containing a number of “union dismantling aspects” that appear to endanger the integrity of the UK which had first been introduced by the Northern Ireland protocol.

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