Westminster 'ultimatum' put to DUP over Protocol stance would be a 'rewriting of the Belfast Agreement': Robinson

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The formation of a Stormont executive in the absence of DUP ministers would be a “rewriting of the Belfast Agreement,” according to the DUP’s Gavin Robinson.

The East Belfast MP was commenting in response to a suggestion that the UK Government might give his party a ‘take it or leave it’ ultimatum and then press ahead with the restoration of the executive.

Newsnight political editor Nick Watt said it had come to his attention that “influential people” at Westminster are talking about the prospect of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak being prepared to make such a radical move to get a protocol deal with the EU over the line.

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Mr Watt said: "So what is being talked about is that Rishi Sunak could sign this deal that the DUP don't like, then he would give them time to think about it.

DUP MP Gavin RobinsonDUP MP Gavin Robinson
DUP MP Gavin Robinson

"If they didn't like it and said 'we're not coming back into power' then there's talk that the rules could be changed, and you could have a process saying 'would you like to take a ministry?' and if the DUP says no then you just go down the list to the next eligible party.

"I do have to say that this is not being briefed by the government, but it is being briefed by quite influential people."

However, Gavin Robinson said such a move would create a “ridiculous” situation.

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“The suggestion that the government would further re-write the Belfast Agreement and legislate to form an executive without the DUP seems like someone flying a kite,” he said.

"It would also be ridiculous that a Protocol proposed to protect the Belfast Agreement ends up completely rewriting the Belfast Agreement.

“For those who have forgotten, political progress in NI was hard won and is built on the support of unionists and nationalists. Not one unionist MLA supports the protocol. The idea that one section of our people will dominate the other and ignore the concerns of unionists will never produce durable or balanced outcomes.”

Mr Robinson added: “There is no solid basis for an executive and assembly until the protocol is replaced with arrangements that restore NI’s place in the UK internal market and our constitutional arrangements are respected.”