By Rebecca Black and Amy Gibbons, PA
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said he will make his position on Stormont clear before the end of the week.
Mr Donaldson has pressed the UK government for “decisive action” over the Northern Ireland Protocol before he will nominate ministers for a new Stormont Executive.
He said that “words in themselves will not fix this problem” after the government stopped short of pledging to take action on the protocol in the queen’s speech.
Mr Donaldson told reporters in London that he is committed to leading the DUP into political institutions at Stormont.
Spoke to Boris Johnson this morning. Reminded him that the DUPs refusal to form an executive is punishing the public, leaving workers & families high and dry. The public here can’t be a pawn in the British Governments game of chicken with the EU. Time to form an Executive now.
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) May 10, 2022
But he added: “I’m also very clear we need to resolve the issues here in terms of the protocol and I will be making my position clear on that before the end of this week.”
Asked if he would stay on as an MP or take up his mandate to be an MLA, Mr Donaldson said: “In the short term a choice has to be made on that. I will come to a decision with my colleagues.”
Following the historic election result at the weekend, Sinn Féin is now the largest party at Stormont and entitled to nominate the first nationalist or republican first minister.
However, the DUP must nominate a deputy first minister to serve alongside in the joint office.
Spoke to the Prime Minister this morning and reiterated our position that we cannot nominate to an Executive until decisive action is taken on the Protocol. Will listen carefully to what is said today in Parliament on the Queens Speech but am clear that action must follow words.
— Jeffrey Donaldson MP (@J_Donaldson_MP) May 10, 2022
Sinn Féin’s Stormont leader, Michelle O’Neill, said she pressed British prime minister Boris Johnson on the importance of a new Executive being formed.
She tweeted that she told him the DUP’s “refusal to form an Executive is punishing the public, leaving workers and families high and dry”.
“The public here can’t be a pawn in the British government’s game of chicken with the EU,” she said.
“Time to form an Executive now.”
Mr Donaldson said that, during his call with Mr Johnson, he “reiterated our position that we cannot nominate to an Executive until decisive action is taken on the protocol”.