The stark government announcement by Minister of State Steve Baker comes in the midst of delicate ongoing talks on the framework between the government and DUP which have been ongoing throughout the summer in a bid to find agreement and restore the Stormont Executive.
DUP Deputy Leader Gavin Robinson said: “On Monday Steve Baker tweeted that he’d “been allowed out of the box” and “allowed to talk to the media”. People will judge for themselves whether that was a successful strategy or not.
“Attempts to pressurise or threaten won’t work and they haven’t worked in the past, including in the run-up to the council elections. The UK Government know the DUP’s position and we will continue our engagement to ensure there is an outcome that works for unionists as well as nationalists.
“Rather than megaphone diplomacy or social media soundbites, the focus should be on finding solutions. Unionism has only ever asked for the Government to meet its own promises about the integrity of the UK.”
But Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson Declan Kearney MLA said the DUP must face reality and end its boycott of the assembly immediately. “The British Government has again made it very clear that further renegotiation of the Windsor Framework is not plausible and that the matter is settled,” he said.
“The Windsor Framework is now an integral part of the protocol and is widely supported across the north, in Westminster and the EU. There is a clear recognition that it exists to protect the regional economy from the worst impacts of Brexit.”
He added: “The DUP has been told again there is no credible alternative to the Windsor Framework.
“It is time for the party to end its anti democratic boycott of the assembly and return to the power sharing institutions.
“That is what must happen to realise the potential of the Windsor Framework and create the political stability needed to begin addressing the scale of crisis across our public services.”