First, may I welcome the new Secretary of State to his place, as I forgot to do so the other day? I greatly welcome him to his place; he has a tough job ahead of him.
May I also say that our thoughts tonight are very much with the police and the community in Derry facing petrol bombs? There have been appalling scenes, which nobody in the community or in this House wants to see.
We welcome the publication of this report, the central conclusion of which states:
“The UK Government, working closely with the Irish Government, will now intensify its efforts to put forward compromise solutions to the parties. If that does not succeed, then the Secretary of State’s next update to the House will set out next steps to ensure adequate governance in Northern Ireland and the protection of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement.”
It states that the Government will now intensify their efforts, but there should be no opportunity to intensify those efforts. The Government should be acting at full capacity and beyond to ensure Stormont’s restoration. A return to direct rule would seriously undermine years of progress and successive political agreements, and the threat of direct rule risks undermining the talks on restoring the devolved Assembly. The reckless Brexit position taken by this Government is now the central instability preventing the return of power sharing. Only a restored Government in Stormont will be capable of delivering on the priorities and needs of the people of Northern Ireland.