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Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, was doing the morning interview round for the government today. She said scrapping the Northern Ireland protocol was still “on the table” as an option for the government to pursue if the talks with the EU did not reach an acceptable conclusion.
She also accused Keir Starmer of hypocrisy over beergate. Asked if he should resign if fined by Durham police, she replied:
My constituents are saying that this whole thing smacks of sheer hypocrisy given the relentless focus he has placed on partygate.
I think this is a decision for him, he’s going to have to search his soul after making this a top priority over the last few months at the expense of key issues like rising cost of living, etc, but look this is a decision for him. My takeaway is that it does smack of sheer hypocrisy.
I don’t think the assessment that is coming from the British government is a fair assessment of the EU’s position. I think the European Union has been flexible, has demonstrated flexibility, but every time up to now that the European Union has demonstrated flexibility, it hasn’t been reciprocated. And that has made the EU more cautious in terms of the discussions with the United Kingdom government.
I think the moment is now for both the EU and the UK. The British government wants to bring this to a conclusion. Any further sort of negative developments on this front will prove that Brexit isn’t being done.
All the parties, bar the Traditional Unionist Voice, focused on the bread-and-butter issues.
My sense is that the mandate they got was to take their assembly seats.
That was not the mandate sought by Sinn Féin in the last three weeks. The whole campaign was on cost of living, on health and on housing.
The border poll was nearly buried from its documentation and its manifesto and, [as] soon as the votes are counted, it is brought back into centre stage.
What work have they done themselves in relation to that? Where is Sinn Féin’s work on this? It’s fairly scant now in terms of substance.
I don’t favour that approach because I think the way you build bridges between North and South is by first of all the political parties and members of parties, members of society more generally, engaging more and more.