By Graeme Hanna •
Published: 14 Oct 2023 • 13:08
Sir Keir Starmer at the Labour party conference.
Credit: The Labour Party/X
A Labour government, led by Sir Keir Starmer, will seek to change elements of the Brexit agreement if they win the next UK general election, according to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.
As featured by the BBC, Donaldson provided insight on his discussions with Starmer as to how his team would aim to do things differently if they continue on their upward curve at the expense of the Tories.
It also comes at a time when the German finance minister has opened the door for fresh talks on improving trade relations.
The pair were in talks on the back of a positive conference for Labour, held in Liverpool last week and the Prime Minister hopeful is seemingly wanting to alleviate some of the pressure of the situation in NI, just as he is open to talks on the EU on trade.
Starmer has been setting out his stall on the concept of EU renegotiation.
Donaldson touched on “interesting discussions” which could see Labour “ease many of the difficulties moving goods” from Britain to NI.
The crux of the problem in Northern Ireland is the Windsor Framework.
It is an amendment to the post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU, which was the NI Protocol.
The NI Assembly is currently mothballed as the DUP is boycotting devolved government in protest at the framework, which they have a mandate for. NI is stalling, with public services struggling but there is no immediate sign of a breakthrough to get the DUP back into Stormont.
In terms of trade and the flow of goods, the BBC report sets out that Starmer could look to either the New Zealand agreement with the EU or a Swiss-style deal.
Neither would be perfect for NI but what would be? It may be possible that he seeks a ‘third way’ based on the agreements above but it all depends on the appetite within Westminster for significant change to the EU current deal which only highlights the compromised position that NI Unionists find themselves in at present.
Starmer wants the UK to be a rule-make and not a rule-taker but if he is to go one better than the current Westminster government in terms of finding a solution for all of the nation, including a return to devolved power-sharing in NI, something will have to give in London or Belfast.
All of this and more awaits the Labour Party which is increasingly positioning itself as the government in waiting.
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Graeme is a freelance writer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland who has been writing full-time for the last three years. He specialises in football and Rangers FC in particular, as well as being on top of news and trending matters. His work has been published in titles such as Rangers Review, Give Me Sport, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon and the Belfast News Letter.
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