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Brexit deal will give fresh impetus to efforts to restore Stormont, says Brokenshire

By Michael McHugh

The UK is committed to following through on its Brexit commitments, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

James Brokenshire said the Government wanted to secure a withdrawal agreement with legal effect.

He said clear assurances were set out in Friday's joint deal.

"Yes of course this is caveated on the basis of nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," he said.

"But actually, the joint commitments, we want them reflected into the withdrawal agreement, we want to secure the agreement that gives the legal effect to all of this.

"But no one should be in any doubt at all as to our commitment to following this through, reflecting the terms of the joint report, that is what we want to see, that actually gives us that agreement with our European partners as we leave the European Union. I think this sets out clear commitments within this joint report that we want now to see advanced and given effect to."

Dublin has expressed concern that Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted the last minute deal on Friday to allow trade talks to start was "a statement of intent" rather than legally enforceable.

The Irish Government branded the view "bizarre" and insisted that an agreement the UK will have "full alignment" with the EU on issues that impact on Northern Ireland was "binding".

Mr Brokenshire said Friday was a clear statement as to how this issue will be addressed in the second phase of the negotiations.

"I don't think anyone should question or doubt the commitment of the UK Government to taking this forward, as shown in the joint report, getting that resolution, getting that agreement, and seeing that we are addressing in detail issues in relation to the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland."

He claimed it should give "renewed impetus" to efforts to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland. "We want to see the Northern Ireland Executive back up and running, in place to play that active part and be that voice for people in Northern Ireland, amplifying and in addition to the work that the UK Government will advance into that second phase."

He said they had been working very closely with the Northern Ireland Civil Service to map out the issues.

"That has provided us with a good basis to approach this second phase of the negotiations.

"But I hope actually this should give renewed impetus to seeing the restoration of devolved government, it is what needs to happen, not simply for Brexit but for so many other things," he added.

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