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Responding to the announcement that the EU has begun legal proceedings against the UK against the introduction of the Internal Market Bill, DUP Parliamentary Leader and Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said:

“Throughout these talks the EU has used Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip to secure favourable trade terms. The Prime Minister was right to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market.

The Internal Market Bill in and of itself does not breach international law. It only gives a Minister powers to make future regulations which would disapply or modify the direct effect of the Withdrawal Agreement. This has not happened to date. Importantly, it will not happen at all unless the EU continues to stymy efforts towards a final deal that respects the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK.

In these negotiations the UK - and unionists in Northern Ireland - have never been treated as an equal partner. The EU has never fully understood the Belfast Agreement or the principle of consent. They have failed to realise protecting links between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and not just those North-South, is integral to ensuring peace and prosperity. They have also abandoned their own obligations to ‘best endeavours’ to reach agreement on the future relationship. With such a loose grasp of these elements of international agreements it is hard to take the EU’s lectures on breaches of the law in any way seriously.

Ultimately, we do not believe the Internal Market Bill is perfect. It is only a small step toward undoing the risks of economic and constitutional carnage presented by arrangements that should not have been agreed in the first place. Amid the predictable hysteria and hyperbole, the DUP will remain grounded and focused on protecting local businesses, families and households and promoting a better deal.”