Belfast Telegraph

'Dodgy sausage' to blame over 'north not British' spat, jokes Labour's Owen Smith

And he wouldn't bet big on Executive deal by next week

By Jonathan Bell

The shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith jokingly blamed the "north isn't British" spat between Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill on a "dodgy sausage".

And, speaking to the BBC, the Labour MP said that while the mood music among the parties was "much more harmonious" he wouldn't put a large bet on a deal being made by next week when the Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire will have to legislate for a budget.

He said that while he had not seen evidence of a deal being made, there was nothing to suggest one wouldn't.

"What is different this time is that it is very much being conducted behind closed doors that the governments are acting as facilitators," he said.

"The real action has been between the DUP and Sinn Fein who I understand are still talking substantively about the issues. That's different, that's encouraging, they have not walked out and they have still been engaged."

The Labour MP is visiting Northern Ireland to visit bombardier over the ongoing dispute with Boeing. He said he was still "hopeful" the 220% tariff ruling against the Canadian aerospace company could be changed.

He said the ruling by the US Department of Commerce was "ludicrously over-the-top" and "sense will be seen".

At the Conservative Party conference Ulster fry event, Michelle O'Neill sparked controversy when she said "the north was not British". Arlene Foster had said "solid progress" had been made in the talks but differences still remained.

Mr Smith said that while relations may have appeared soured between the two, he believed the mood music between their parties was "much more harmonious".

"Let's hope it was a one off aberration, perhaps it was a dodgy sausage or they weren't too well after the night before," he said.

James Brokenshire said he wanted to see an Executive in place before Brexit, which is scheduled for March 2019. He has said he will legislate to introduce a budget in Northern Ireland this month should not deal be made to restore an executive.

DUP-Sinn Féin clash at Conservatives conference

Posted by BBC News NI on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

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