Sunak says east-west council proposed by DUP has ‘considerable merit’

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson argued for the idea at his party’s conference at the weekend.

Ben Hatton
Wednesday 18 October 2023 13:43 BST
Signage for Larne Port (David Young/PA)
Signage for Larne Port (David Young/PA) (PA Archive)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The Prime Minister has said there is “considerable merit” in the DUP’s suggestion of forming a new “east-west council”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson argued for the idea at his party’s conference at the weekend.

Sir Jeffrey told his party he has proposed the idea to “bring together representatives from across the United Kingdom”, which he said could then meet on a “regular basis to discuss and collaborate on opportunities for enhanced co-operation”.

The DUP leader put the idea to Rishi Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons on Wednesday.

Sir Jeffrey said: “Having left the European Union, building links and cooperation across the four nations of our United Kingdom can only strengthen the Union.

“Will the Prime Minister agree with my proposal for the creation of an east-west council to bring together all parts of the UK family to discuss and collaborate on the trading and any other opportunities presented by the Union?”

Mr Sunak responded: “(Sir Jeffrey) made a powerful case in his conference speech last weekend for a strong functioning Northern Ireland within our union.

“The Secretary of State has had the opportunity to discuss our shared commitment to the union with his party over recent weeks and months, and I’m grateful for the constructive approach and tone taken in those discussions.

“I think there is considerable merit in the idea of a new east-west council to further strengthen the union, and I look forward to exploring the issue with him and his colleagues further.”

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