Withdrawal of ‘double-jobbing’ proposal at Westminster is setback for the DUP leader
Alliance leader Naomi Long has urged Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to commit fully to the Assembly after the government withdrew its controversial proposal to reintroduce double-jobbing in Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson announced a U-turn on the amendment after it became clear it might be defeated in the House of Lords in what could have been a deeply embarrassing result for both the Tories and the DUP.
Every other political party in Stormont welcomed the reversal.
If successful, the proposal would have allowed the DUP leader to retain his seat in Westminster even if elected to the Assembly.
Justice Minister Mrs Long said: “I welcome the Prime Minister finally waking up and listening to the will of the overwhelming majority of people and parties in Northern Ireland.
“However, this amendment should not have been moved in the first place.
“Double-jobbing is not only wrong, but it’s impossible and does a disservice to the electorate.
“As the only local party backing the potential return of double-jobbing, the question now must be asked of the DUP as to how serious they are about the Assembly.
“Sir Jeffrey Donaldson needs to affirm his commitment by removing his repeated threats to bring it down, focusing on his party doing what they were elected to do, and ensuring a new Executive is formed without delay post-election.”
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This was a cynical and crude attempt by Boris Johnson and the NIO to prop up the DUP and facilitate Jeffrey Donaldson’s return to the Assembly.
“These plans did not reflect what was agreed by the parties and governments in New Decade, New Approach. They were roundly rejected and rightly opposed by the majority of Assembly parties and proves yet again that the DUP is out of step and the Tories out of order.”
Six Stormont parties — Alliance, Sinn Fein, the UUP, SDLP, the Greens, and People Before Profit — wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to scrap the amendment.
Opposition also grew at Westminster among Labour and Liberal Democrat peers. UUP peer Lord Empey hailed the Government’s U-turn as a “victory for positive dialogue”.
He said: “You don`t have to threaten to crash the institutions for unionism to have influence with Government. There is another way.
“Positive engagement with government and parties is the way forward for unionism as we redouble our efforts to solve the problems created by the ill-judged protocol by putting forward positive plans to ensure long term stability for Northern Ireland and its institutions.”
TUV chairman Jordan Armstrong also welcomed the withdrawal of the proposal.
“Hopefully, our MPs will now focus on the serious job they have been given to do at Westminster rather than suggesting that they need more to do.
“Northern Ireland is already robbed of proper representation due to Sinn Fein’s disgraceful policy of abstention.
“We don’t need unionist MPs treating their work in the mother of Parliaments as anything other than a full-time job.
“Now that the issue has been put to bed, I look forward to the election campaign being fought on serious policy issues, not least the protocol and which Unionist party has proved itself to be most serious in its opposition to the dismantling of the UK.”