, 14 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
The DUP are right that a Stormont lock wouldn't resolve all concerns about Backstop but it would improve it and should be welcomed as such.

I've set out previously how I think such a mechanism could work, building on the commitment in the December 2017 Joint Report

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2/ In December 2017 both the UK and EU agreed a Joint Report, paragraph 50 of which noted that in the backstop “the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless...
3/ ... consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland”.

For some reason & to DUP annoyance, this dropped out of the final Withdrawal Agreement.

It should be re-introduced.
4/ How would a Stormont lock work?

The purpose would be to create a mechanism to question new EU acts affecting NI only – it would specifically address the flow of new rules, not the stock.

It would only apply if the UK was in the backstop, and if the Assembly was restored.
5/ It could be designed so it gave an option to vote against a new rule, rather than requiring affirmative votes on every new rule.

You could require a strong majority vote to trigger the lock (although that could entail reforms to the petition of concern process).
6/ What is not acceptable is for new rules and regulations to be imposed over the heads of Northern Ireland’s elected representatives without an ability to say no. That’s not devolution, and it’s not democratic.
7/ So what should happen if Stormont voted against a new EU rule? The issue would be referred to the Joint Committee comprised of UK and EU representatives established under May's deal
8/ Under the existing terms, the Joint Committee has to agree every new EU ‘act’ which would apply to Northern Ireland. So under May’s deal the UK can already resist new regulations, directives & decisions from the EU which would have to be applied in Northern Ireland.
9/ If the Stormont lock was engaged the Joint Committee could take several possible steps.

✖️ One would be just to not apply the new act in Northern Ireland (nor, of course, in the rest of the United Kingdom) while working to resolve any issues this created.

✖️Another option would be, with the consent of the UK Parliament, to apply the act across the whole UK (meaning Westminster voting to keep the UK in step with the EU).

✖️A third option could be for the the Irish Republic to decide to seek a derogation from the EU for that new act. There are already existing EU precedents for this – for example, Malta has provisions limiting the purchase of second homes.

I explored this in more detail in a piece for @ConHome back in November

13/ Why should the EU agree it?

Because a) they want the deal to get overline and b) because it changes HOW not WHETHER the backstop operates

What the lock would do is give Stormont a veto role as part of the existing UK veto in the Joint Committee

Why should @DUPleader welcome it?

Becuase it would give surety that new regulatory divergence between NI and GB cannot be imposed over the head of Stormont in the Backstop - precisely the concern of @NigelDoddsDUP and others
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