The DUP MP Sammy Wilson has claimed Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has “caved in” to demands from Sinn Fein, as he criticised another Conservative MP for sounding like a “colonial ruler”.
The East Antrim MP made the comments in the House of Commons chamber on Tuesday during a session giving the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill a second reading.
The legislation relates to undertakings the UK Government made in the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) deal, such as extending the time period within which a snap election must be called if devolution collapses again.
It would also lengthen the time allowed to appoint Northern Ireland ministers after an election, and also allow ministers to stay in office for up to 24 weeks or for up to 48 weeks if the first minister or deputy first minister resign.
While the Bill does not relate to the recent decision by the Secretary of State to agree he will bring forward Irish language legislation over the heads of Stormont, Mr Wilson referenced the controversy from last week, accusing Mr Lewis of “pandering” to Sinn Fein.
FWIW: I’m a Celt & I love the rich diversity of language & culture across our islands. The Welsh Language Act didn’t lead to a rise in nationalism but a cultural flowering & richness. If it comes to the Commons I will vote for an Irish Language Act. We will act if Stormont fails— Simon Hoare MP (@Simon4NDorset) June 16, 2021
"Pathetically those threats have been caved into again by the Secretary of State with the commitments he made to Sinn Fein,” said Sammy Wilson
"Either he wants parties in Northern Ireland to work together or he doesn't. Either he wants to try and take the poison out of the system which there is in Northern Ireland or he doesn't.
"I can tell this House one thing: that if this one-sided pandering to Sinn Fein, setting aside the devolved powers, continues then all he is doing is allowing Sinn Fein to come back time and time and time again."
During his remarks, Sammy Wilson also expressed anger at the Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee – the Tory MP Simon Hoare.
In a tweet posted last week, Mr Hoare said: “If it comes to the Commons I will vote for an Irish Language Act. We will act if Stormont fails.”
Sammy Wilson accused him of having a “patronising” and “condescending” attitude.
“It doesn’t go down very well in Northern Ireland. This kind of condescending attitude: ‘If the natives can’t get it together, then let’s do it here’, like he [Simon Hoare] was talking like some 19th century colonial ruler,” added Mr Wilson.
In a tweet, Mr Wilson added: “Ulster says no. To viceroy.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, explaining why he would support the Bill, said: "I don't want this place at all legislating in the devolved space, but if parties like the DUP and Sinn Fein can't deliver in government this is what's going to keep happening time and time again.
"If you want to stop Westminster going over the heads of devolved government, actually do the things you agreed to do in the first place."
The Bill will undergo further scrutiny at a later date.