Northern Ireland's DUP leader says more work needed to solve post-Brexit trade row
LONDON (Reuters) - The leader of Northern Ireland's largest unionist party said on Tuesday there was still work to be done to find a resolution to a dispute between Britain and the European Union over their post-Brexit trading arrangements with the province.
Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, told members of Britain's governing Conservative Party that while progress had been made in finding solutions, his party was still concerned with the application of some EU regulations or laws to goods produced in the British-governed province.
Britain and the EU are edging closer to resolving their dispute over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol, which sets out the conditions for post-Brexit trade with the province to avoid creating a hard border with EU member Ireland and to help protect the bloc's single market.
"He said he was extremely pleased with the progress that had been made so far but there was further to go," a person who attended the meeting said on condition of anonymity.
"Essentially, the most important thing was the continued application of EU law to product standards in Northern Ireland, which was hugely problematic for Northern Ireland in terms of its biggest market, mainland GB (Great Britain)."
Donaldson told Conservatives it was "quite wrong" for goods produced in Northern Ireland and destined for Britain to be subject to EU rules, especially when those rules might change over time and the province would still have to adhere to them without having any input in their creation, the person said.
Donaldson also urged British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take his time to solve such issues rather than working to any timetable, a reference to suggestions that London wants a deal to be done before the April anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which largely ended three decades of sectarian violence.
The protocol was long the thorniest issue in Britain's negotiations to leave the EU but has also hampered ties since then. Sunak is staking much of his reputation on finding a resolution with the EU, but he faces resistance from not only some unionists in Northern Ireland, but also from Brexit-supporting Conservatives. (This story has been refiled to change 'North' to 'Northern' in headline)
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Paul Simao)