Editorial: Lord Dodds is scathing about the mis-selling of the Windsor Framework

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News Letter editorial on Tuesday March 21 2023:

​The politics around the Windsor Framework took a notable turn yesterday. yesterday.As we report on our front page, Lord Dodds has criticised the government for misrepresenting the so-called Stormont brake.

Lord Dodds is a former deputy leader of the DUP and a long-standing and loyal member of that party.

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It has been striking that he was quickly critical of the Windsor Framework while the leadership of the party did not issue such criticisms. Both Lord Dodds and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, were emphatic that there was no split in the party. That might be so in the sense that no-one is likely actually to leave the party. But there has been a clear difference of tone and emphasis in their responses to Rishi Sunak’s deal.

Yesterday Sir Jeffrey said that the party would vote against tomorrow’s division on the brake. That had seemed likely after Ian Paisley Junior had told this newspaper on Sunday that he was “categorically” going to vote against the deal and he would be surprised if his DUP colleagues did not. But the intervention from Lord Dodds is all the more significant. He is a Cambridge law graduate and a less outspoken figure than Mr Paisley.

Second, his criticism is scathing, accusing the secretary of state Chris Heaton-Harris of “the latest example of gross misrepresentation about the”l deal and demanding that he apologise to the people of NI.

“So keen was he to promote [the Stormont brake] that he told us the UK government would be bound by the decision of the Assembly. This turns out to be completely absent from the text of the legislation.”

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Unionists have increasingly compared the EU interpretation of the deal with the UK description of it. Unless the DUP is about to experience an internal rupture, it seems it is heading towards full rejection of the deal, not just symbolic.