Northern Ireland government could return within days

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The leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said today that the region’s power-sharing government could be restored within days if the British government moves quickly to implement a deal it agreed with his party.

The DUP announced in the early hours of this morning that the party had endorsed proposals agreed with London on the operation of post-Brexit trade rules that would allow it to end a near two-year boycott of the devolved government.

“That is possible if the UK government moves with the speed that I believe they can in terms of what needs to be done (to implement the agreement),” Jeffrey Donaldson told BBC Radio Ulster when asked if the government could be restored within days.

Northern Ireland’s main parties will meet later today to discuss the restoration of the devolved government, a key part of a 1998 peace agreement that obliges Irish nationalists and pro-British unionist politicians to share power.

Donaldson said the UK government could then publish legislation underpinning the deal as soon as tomorrow.

The legislation will have two elements, he added, one part designed to affirm Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and the other introducing changes to the UK Internal Market Act to “protect the region’s ability to trade with the rest of the UK”.

However, he also acknowledged that the deal was not perfect.

“Are these proposals perfect? Have we achieved everything that we wanted to achieve? No, we haven’t. I will be honest with people about what we’ve been able to deliver,” he said.