Windsor deal moves ahead in London and Brussels despite DUP opposition

Dublin unworried by DUP’s planned House of Commons vote against framework

The Windsor framework is moving towards implementation, with EU ministers giving formal approval on Tuesday and the House of Commons expected to vote in favour of the measure this evening.

The Commons vote on the Framework on Wednesday night is expected to pass comfortably despite opposition from the DUP and some Tory Eurosceptics, while in Brussels EU ministers yesterday approved decisions to implement the changes required by the framework.

The deal, reached last month between prime minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, is intended to put years of Brexit wrangling behind the EU and UK by finally agreeing on the arrangements which govern Northern Ireland’s special position.

Senior Irish Government sources said they were unworried by the DUP’s decision, announced by party leader Jeffrey Donaldson on Monday, to vote against the deal in the House of Commons this evening.


There is some optimism in both Dublin and London that the DUP will consent to a revival of the powersharing institutions at Stormont, but little expectation that it will happen soon.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that it is “still possible for the institutions to be re-established even if the DUP does not fully accept the Windsor framework.”

“But,” he added, “that is ultimately the DUP’s call.”

“I hope it makes a favourable call on that in the coming weeks or months but I cannot speak for the DUP, nor should I try to do so.”

Mr Varadkar said that there is “ongoing contact between the DUP and the UK government about its own domestic legislation, but certainly when it comes to any changes to the Northern Ireland Act, it is really important that all five big parties are fully consulted, and we should recognise the fact that there are five big parties in Northern Ireland”.

He also said that EU leaders would discuss the issue at a European summit in Brussels later this week but wanted to see the result of the vote at Westminster. “Pending that vote, I will not say any more than that.”

Mr Varadkar was answering questions from TDs including the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald who repeated her call for the DUP to re-establish the powersharing institutions.

“It is time now for the DUP to accept that the negotiations are over and the deal done and that a functioning Executive and Assembly should be established. It would be a huge lost opportunity on the occasion of President Biden’s visit if there were no functioning institutions,” she said.

Yesterday Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie said the Windsor framework represented “an important stepping stone on rectifying many of the unwarranted challenges from the previous Northern Ireland protocol”.

Yesterday the European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptic MPs said that the deal was “practically useless” but chairman Mark Francois declined to say if the group – which was previously pivotal in destroying former prime minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal with the EU – would actually vote against the deal this evening.

In response, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood tweeted: “Nobody in Northern Ireland cares what Mark Francois thinks. Nobody!”