Labour’s plan to renegotiate the Brexit trade deal would not break the political deadlock in Northern Ireland, the leader of the DUP has said.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned that, based on Sir Keir Starmer’s current proposals, his party would not end its 16-month boycott of the Stormont Assembly.

His remarks mean there is a possibility that the Province may remain without a functioning government even after the next general election.

The DUP walked out of power-sharing last February in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol, which imposes checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, signed a new deal to reduce levels of red tape – but Unionists said it did not go far enough.

Labour has pledged to sign a separate food standards agreement with Brussels, which it says would solve the main problems faced by Ulster.

But asked about the plan, Sir Jeffrey told The Telegraph: “A UK-wide veterinary agreement would not address all of the problems created by the protocol. It would certainly help with key elements of the protocol, but it’s not a catch-all solution – it’s dealing with one element of the protocol.

“It would have to be a much more comprehensive approach than just having a UK-wide veterinary agreement with the EU.”

The DUP objects to other parts of the Brexit border deal, including the fact that EU rules are still applied in Northern Ireland but not the rest of the UK.

In a new report, the Centre for Brexit Policy said Number 10 and Brussels should replace the protocol with a system of mutual enforcement of goods standards.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader, said the Government would have to revisit the issue of Northern Ireland in the near future.

“Events will slowly push people back to ask the question of what this has actually resolved, and the answer is not very much,” he added.

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