The Deputy Prime Minister said that the amendment of the Northern Ireland Protocol “cannot be postponed”, – said the Deputy Prime Minister amid fears that after last Thursday’s election, progress in the distribution of power will remain deadlocked.

Dominique Raab told Sky News Sophy Ridge on Sunday that stability was “under threat” due to problems with the protocol governing Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade agreements.

The agreement guaranteed that there would be no return to the hard border with the Republic of Ireland, but created an effective border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why is it important?

The stalemate in attempts to revise the agreement was brought to an end last Thursday when Sinn Fein first became the largest party.

The DUP trade union said it would not participate in the separation of powers from Sinn Fein unless progress was made on the protocol.

Mr Raab told Sky News that the UK wanted “stability” to be created with the formation of the new executive.

But he said “stability is at stake – if you will – at stake – problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, something that affects communities around.”

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He added: “It is clear that the Northern Ireland Protocol needs to be corrected … and it cannot be postponed.

“We will not get the executive power that the people of Northern Ireland need until this is considered.”

The protocol regulates trade agreements for Northern Ireland after Brexit

The protocol was an agreement agreed by the government of Boris Johnson, but in recent months the prime minister and other high-ranking ministers have loudly expressed a desire to revise it – and do not rule out that Britain may act unilaterally to suspend it.

Mr Raab said: “If it had been implemented with … flexibility and goodwill and with the business interests of communities across Northern Ireland, and if it had not been used openly as a political tool that exists, I don’t think we “d have the same level of problems.

“But the point of discussion has passed. We need to see that it is fixed. The government is trying to fix it.”

Mr Raab said it would be done “mostly through negotiations”.

But he added: “If not, we will have to take steps to ensure that the economic integrity of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and, frankly, the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom is protected and preserved.

“It is now clear: if anything, the outcome of this election in Northern Ireland shows that it cannot be postponed.”

Advancing the deadlines for making changes to the protocol – and whether it will be weeks or months, Mr Raab said “no more than that”.

He declined to say whether such measures would be taken in the Queen’s speech this week.

Brendan Lewis, secretary for Northern Ireland, told Sky News: “It is very sad that the EU has not shown the flexibility we need to see to get this resolution.”

He said the current deal means people and businesses can’t access the products they need, and also affects firms in the UK that sell to Northern Ireland.

Mr Lewis added: “The protocol that was drawn up to defend the Good Friday agreement is what is really putting the most pressure on it at the moment, and we cannot allow that to continue.”

He added that on Monday he should meet with the leaders of the Northern Ireland Party to encourage them to start the assembly.

Sammy Wilson, an MP from the DUP, told Sky News that his party had previously heard promises from the UK government, but that “until you remove the poison from the protocol … there is really no point in moving to the assembly”.

He said that because of the “bad faith” shown earlier, the DUP would not accept an offer from Mr Lewis on the grounds of “trust us, we will promote the legislation”.

“I don’t think, given the government’s records, it’s a reasonable request for the Secretary of State,” Mr Wilson said.

European Minister for Europe Thomas Byrne said the “overwhelming majority” of members of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont wanted the protocol to work, and called on Britain to “engage with the European Union” on the issue.

Mr Raab also seemed to be downplaying the prospect of a referendum on reunifying Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, after Sinn Fein called for preparations for such a vote.

He said: “If you look at the results in Northern Ireland, 58% of the people fully voted for either the parties that support the union or the parties that do not support the constitutional change, and that is the message of the people of Northern Ireland.”

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