Belfast Telegraph

James Brokenshire pleads for 'resolve' in search for Stormont agreement

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has used a rallying cry from Bill Clinton to make a fresh appeal for political parties to restore devolved government at Stormont.

At the Tory conference in Manchester, Mr Brokenshire also said any help the Government had offered Bombardier was fair and legal, as he rebuked Boeing for the trade row that has put thousands of jobs at risk in Northern Ireland.

He also said that while the DUP and the Tories were separate parties, they were working together at Westminster "standing firm against Jeremy Corbyn".

The Northern Ireland Secretary said the Government would "provide the necessary political stability and governance" if no deal is reached, including setting a budget for Northern Ireland later this month.

Mr Brokenshire told the main conference hall that political parties in Northern Ireland had resolved issues and shown leadership in the past to create "political stability which has been an example to world".

He added: "As President Clinton said to me recently, we just can't go backwards.

"So my message to the parties is now is the time to reach agreement.

"Now is the time to look beyond the issues that divide you, show the resolve you have demonstrated in the past."

He said the situation at Bombardier was an example of the different parties at Stormont working together.

"I am deeply disappointed by the initial determination of Boeing's challenge to the sale of C series aircraft," he added.

"The support that the UK provided to the Bombardier operation in Belfast was and remains compliant with international requirements."

He said the Government would continue to protect the thousands of workers at risk, as he called Boeing's case "unjustified and unwarranted".

Mr Brokenshire welcomed DUP leader Arlene Foster and others to Manchester, adding: "We are and will remain two separate parties with our distinctive identities and values.

"On some issues we will disagree, but as two parties we are working together at Westminster in the national interest.

"Providing the political stability our country needs to respond to some of the most significant challenges and opportunities in a generation, and standing firm against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party who would lead our country down a path to economic ruin and leave people worse off, just like they always do."

Elsewhere in his speech, Mr Brokenshire reiterated his desire not to see former security forces unfairly or unjustly treated for their actions.

He added that Brexit would maintain the common travel area in Ireland and see no physical infrastructure on the border.

"With sufficient flexibility and imagination on all sides, as the EU itself has called for, we can succeed," said Mr Brokenshire.

Mr Brokenshire also said he was committed to devolving corporation tax, while he would also look at establishing a public sector hub in Northern Ireland as services move out of London.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox insisted the Bombardier clash was a US Canada dispute that Britain had been caught up in.

Speaking on the conference fringes, he said: "This is basically a US Canada dispute.

"Our view is it would be much better if it is settled between those and it doesn't move forward."

Mr Fox, who described himself as an unreconstructed free market, unionist Eurosceptic Atlanticist, said the dispute was a "long way from resolution".

Asked if he was striking a softer tone than Cabinet colleagues who have threatened retaliation, he said the Government would "make the appropriate noises in the appropriate places and they won't always be the same noises in the same place".

He added: "The size of the tariff is utterly disproportionate and unacceptable."

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