The East Belfast MP said “Whilst the reshuffle steals the headlines, we are more focused on the ‘what’ than the ‘who’. Our focus is on securing arrangements that restore NI’s place in the U.K. internal market and ensuring our constitutional arrangements are respected.
The party has been in discussion with the government for months over what extra assurances it can get on Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements with the rest of the UK. The Windsor Framework, which the party welcomed as progress, achieved some easing of the burdens facing traders. But the DUP want improvements, and the party is concerned about the constitutional implications of the deal between the UK and the European Union.
Mr Robinson said “We continue discussions with the Government but the ball is in the Government’s court. We all want to see devolution restored but it can only be on a basis that unionists as well as nationalists can support. Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom must be both respected and protected.”
The DUP MP also raised the way Northern Ireland’s public services are funded – something that the party wants to change. He said: “The U.K. government has a definition of ‘need’ which can be applied to each of the devolved regions. When that definition was applied to NI by our Fiscal Council they found that we are underfunded and that funding gap will massively increase over the next decade. The situation must be arrested regardless of whether devolution is restored or not. It is not sustainable to try and run first class services that are underfunded.”
Last year Stormont overspent on its budget, something the Fiscal Council partly attributed to inflationary pressures across the UK. However, the body has previously said that it costs 20% more to provide the same standard of public services in Northern Ireland as in England. The Barnett formula – which determines how much money Northern Ireland receives from Westminster - was set many years ago, and the DUP want it to be revisited to stop a squeeze on the public purse in the next decade.