By Rebecca Black, PA
The Windsor Framework “gives enough” to end the Stormont stalemate, Keir Starmer believes.
The UK Labour leader said he is glad the DUP is taking time to consider the new deal agreed by Britain and EU which was unveiled on Monday.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has been in flux for more than a year while the DUP refused to take part until the party’s concerns around the Brexit protocol are addressed.
Earlier, Northern Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the British government will legislate to reassure unionists over the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.
He said he hoped that with time and space the new UK-EU deal would pave the way for the return of the powersharing institutions.
Mr Starmer was questioned by school students at St Columb’s College as part of an event organised by the John and Pat Hume Foundation.
When asked by a student if he believed the Windsor Framework was enough to end the stalemate at Stormont, Mr Starmer said he did.
“I do. I’m always conscious that it’s very important for communities and political parties here to be comfortable with the progress that we make, and when I was here working 20 years or so ago, I was always reticent about being the person who came along to tell people in Northern Ireland what I thought they ought to think,” he said.
“But I do genuinely think that this is a real opportunity, I felt that before we even saw the text, over the last month/six weeks I could feel that the UK and EU were moving closer together. This is a good thing, I’m a great believer in bridge building and bringing people together.
“I do think there is enough, it is a compromise, that’s the nature of any agreement but if it gives us the space to move forward, which I think it will, if it leads to Stormont running again, I think that’s really good and so I think this is a real opportunity.”
He added: “I’m glad that the DUP is taking their time to look at it carefully, and we were very careful in saying we supported the protocol but it is important it has the greatest consensus possible.
“I’m really glad the DUP are taking time to carefully consider it. I do hope that allows them to get to a position where we move forward. I feel there is an opportunity there.”