Filling in for the ace @Alain_Tolhurst on this week’s Saturday read...

I interviewed DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, who insisted he was not scared about the next Assembly election but warned it’d be “critical” for unionism. “It’s an election we must win.”…
Donaldson, who replaced Edwin Poots last month, told me the DUP would not consider supporting the UK government's move to implement Irish language legislation until/unless it delivered "meaningful" changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol…
With the DUP languishing in recent polls, Donaldson said the party must be more "inclusive" and a "broad umbrella under which unionists can shelter," to get back on track

The DUP needed a more "positive & progressive" vision, he said. "We have work to do"…
Donaldson wouldn't say whether he trusted Boris Johnson

But he warned the PM: "He does not want his legacy to be the break-up of the Union... I believe he will take the action necessary to restore Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market."…

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More from @adampayne26

7 Jul
most stressed I’ve been since meaningful vote 2.0
Not even Matterface can ruin this
Hi Lee Anderson do u want picking up in the morning pal
Read 4 tweets
28 Jun
0-0 out on pens tomorrow it is then
nailed on
I’m cancelled
Read 5 tweets
11 Apr
Exc: Former Northern Ireland Secretaries urge government to take the province more seriously after a week of unrest

Peter Hain: successive governments have shown “casual indifference” towards NI

Mandelson: Johnson must show “more candour & engagement”…
Peter Hain (Northern Ireland Secretary 05-07): “Compared with the attention Blair, Major and Brown gave to Northern Ireland, it has been treated with casual indifference, Frankly, I find it really upsetting”

Johnson should have flown out there “days ago”…
"The government has allowed this to degenerate to the most serious crisis for a quarter of a century," Hain told PoliticsHome

He singled out “respected” Julian Smith, who Johnson sacked as Northern Ireland Secretary when he became PM, as an exception…
Read 5 tweets
10 Mar
Several shellfish businesses have got in touch to explain why DEFRA's plan to build purification tanks in the UK won't revive live exports to the EU

Purification reduces shelf life and even if it didn't they'd need tanks as big as swimming pools, they say…
So yday Eustice told me that DEFRA would use some of the £100m fishing fund to let shellfish businesses build their own purification tanks in time for winter trading

This would allow them to depurate mussels, cockles etc before sending them to EU

As Devon-based mussel exporter John Holmyard explained, purification reduces shelf life and his exports would die before or soon after arriving in Europe

Or as James Green, an Oyster exporter in Kent put it: buyers "in France do not want purified oysters"…
Read 5 tweets
9 Mar
Exclusive: The government is planning to revive shellfish exports by the winter by building purification sites across the UK, George Eustice tells me

He said DEFRA would use the £100m fishing fund to set up facilities if the EU doesn't change its rules…
Eustice said the EU was "not in a position" to discuss its prohibition on live shellfish caught in class B waters

If it doesn't budge, DEFRA will build purification sites nationwide before the end of the yr

How many traders can afford to wait that long?…
Does Eustice understand why some fishers feel betrayed?

Gov "didn't get everything we wanted" in its trade deal w/ the EU and "that's no secret," he said

But leaving the SM/CU means “additional administration" that "businesses would always rather not do"…
Read 4 tweets
8 Mar
Exclusive: The government is currently looking at a menu of options for postponing checks on EU imports planned to be in place by July 1st

One is gradually phasing them in from July 1st, while another is delaying them altogether, I'm told…
Frost has asked officials to review the timetable for introducing checks on EU goods, as @tobyhelm & @Joe_Mayes have reported

There's "real nervousness" within HMG that delays could derail the reopening of hospitality and lead to empty supermarket shelves…
Frost is expected to put plans to potentially postpone checks on EU imports to Cabinet colleagues this week, potentially as soon as today

The first wave of checks are due to take effect in just over three weeks on April 1st…
Read 4 tweets

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