Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denies Tory government's legacy is Northern Ireland's detachment from UK

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Rishi Sunak has denied that the legacy of this Conservative government has been the increasing detachment of Northern Ireland from Great Britain through the Windsor Framework.

The Prime Minister was speaking on a visit to Artemis Technologies in Belfast as part of a whistle-stop tour of the UK’s four nations.

The News Letter asked the Prime Minister whether the reality is that – despite the government’s claims about how much it values the Union – what it has delivered is Northern Ireland's detachment from the union through the Windsor Framework.

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The Tory leader rejected that assessment, saying: “No, I don't I don't agree with that characterization. I care very deeply about the people of Northern Ireland and when I got this job, Chris and I sat down, and we wanted to do everything we could to ensure that people in Northern Ireland had their devolved government up and running, which hadn't been in place for years.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has defended his government's record in Northern Ireland, during a visit to Belfast on Friday morning.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has defended his government's record in Northern Ireland, during a visit to Belfast on Friday morning.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has defended his government's record in Northern Ireland, during a visit to Belfast on Friday morning.

“You all know that better than me and the impact it was having on people here and public services, so I made it a priority. Quietly working behind the scenes with Chris [Heaton – Harris] , not just to get the with the framework agreed, but then also to get the executive up and running. And I'm really pleased and proud that we've been able to achieve that and in the process ensure not only does Northern Ireland have the representation it deserves that it feels part, properly, of our United Kingdom as it should and that was a priority for me and a priority for Chris.

And as I said earlier as evidence of my willingness to take bold action, because of the times that we live in. That's what is required. You need to be prepared to take bold action. You need to have a plan that you stick to even when it's difficult and people are criticising you, because that's how you deliver a secure future.

“That's what we've done for the people of Northern Ireland. That's the choice at this election”.

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TUV leader Jim Allister said “The PM’s visit to the part of the UK over which he surrendered substantial sovereignty to the EU underscores the urgency and centrality of the TUV/Reform UK demand for the full reunification of our United Kingdom. Mr Sunak can talk about the economy, but the reality is that he handed vast swathes of our economic laws, including all affecting our goods economy and agri-food industry, to a foreign power. He may exalt in the restoration of Stormont, but it is a Stormont subservient to foreign law it cannot change.“The truth is that none of his Protocol promises have weathered the sovereignty-surrender he perpetrated, with our High Court disapplying two of his key laws, because his Windsor Framework sustained the supremacy of EU law.“As for ‘Safeguarding the Union’ it has proved to be a glossy trick, with its promises of legislative change disappearing with him out of office - leaving the DUP conned and foolish.”

The Prime Minister was speaking on a visit to an advanced maritime manufacturing facility in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, where he spoke to apprentices and rode on a small zero-emission boat.

The boat has been manufactured by Artemis Technologies, a company that has received government funding to support its work.

Rishi Sunak also addressed the inability of his government to get its flagship smoking ban through parliament before it is dissolved ahead of the election.

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He said he was “of course disappointed not be able to get that through at the end of the session given the time available.

“But what I’d say is that’s evidence of the bold action that I’m prepared to take. That’s the type of Prime Minister I am.

“That’s the type of leadership that I bring.

“I stepped up to do something that is bold, that will make an enormous difference in the future of our country. That’s what the situation right now demands. Someone who is willing to take bold action, that has a clear plan because that’s how we deliver a secure future for everyone and their families.”

On Thursday, Northern Ireland’s outgoing health minister Robin Swann said it is “hugely regrettable that the UK’s chance to create a new smoke-free generation came so tantalisingly close has ultimately been lost”.

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