Varadkar and Johnson due to visit Stormont

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to assuage concern in Northern Ireland that his Brexit deal will economically cut off the region from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy would not say exactly how much was proposed but described verbal figures offered by the government last night as falling "way short".

Campaigners in Northern Ireland have welcomed the news on a day that has been described as "historic".

"The only circumstances in which you could imagine the need for checks from GB to NI, as I have explained before, is if those goods were going on into Ireland and we had not secured - which I hope and am confident we will - a zero tariff, zero quota agreement with our friends and partners in the EU", Johnson told reporters in Belfast on Monday. This claim has been undermined by Northern Ireland's obligation to implement European Union customs codes at its ports.

Varadkar agreed: "The Good Friday agreement is working again".

"We are listening very carefully and we will give the support we can", said Johnson, perhaps mindful that funding for Northern Ireland could have knock-on implications for Scotland and Wales.

Johnson sits alongside Leo Varadkar to meet the Northern Irish leaders.

That followed a meeting between the Stormont parties and Secretary of State Julian Smith. Devolution collapsed in January 2017 amid acrimony between the two parties.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer, a longstanding critic of the unit, said the Government would continue to work to protect troops from "vexatious prosecutions".

Mrs Foster spoke of "significant and sustained investment, not just this year but over a number of years" while Ms O'Neill said "quite simply, we need the money to make it happen". "This is crucial in ensuring transformation in areas such as health and also our road and water infrastructures".

The new agreement contained provision for "proper responsibility for the use of public funds", he said.

Asked about the scandal, Johnson replied: "It is vital that public spending in Northern Ireland is properly invigilated and there is no repetition of that kind of thing".

With the detail of the deal to restore Stormont known since last Thursday night and the Executive having already been reformed on Saturday, Boris Johnson's visit to Stormont yesterday was nearly ceremonial.

He insisted he stood by the manifesto pledge to protect armed forces veterans from the 30-year conflict from unfair prosecutions without new evidence coming forward.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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