Last March, when the Prime Minister declared the Windsor Framework was a wonderful deal for Northern Ireland – or words to that effect – I said that he had oversold what was progress as a finished product.

It has taken ten more months of negotiation by the DUP to come up with a better deal, which allows devolution to return and the promise of the Act of Union to be fulfilled, that is the internal market of the United Kingdom.

The leader of the DUP has been careful not to fall into the trap of overselling the deal, but he has a fine balance to keep because he also wants to point out the positives which he has achieved with the UK Government.

For some in Northern Ireland, the usual stereotypical reaction has been that it is a sell-out.

For those people, a negotiation is not about getting the best possible deal, but rather taking up a position and then refusing to move.

To be fair, some of those rejecting the deal before they have seen the detail – which will come today in the House of Commons – have never wanted devolution under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

That’s a perfectly justifiable position, but if that is your position, then you should not try and stop those who believe in devolution trying to get the best deal possible.

For others who have genuine concerns about the deal – which is not surprising, given the track record of the Government with Northern Ireland – I hope they will try and work to deal with the remaining problems.

The DUP set out its seven tests at the Assembly election in March of 2022, and contrary to some commentary, the tests were there to judge any deal against.

The seven tests were not sacrosanct, but were to help the party make a judgement on any proposed deal.

When the details of the deal are revealed by the Government, we will all see how those tests measure up, but if the internal market of the UK is opened up without artificial borders, then that will be a very good starting point for fulfilling the tests.

I hope that this deal, which as I understand it very much improves the Windsor framework, allows Northern Ireland to work within the UK.

The Protocol as first negotiated was rejected by all Unionists in Northern Ireland, as it created barriers to trade within the UK, and created an Irish sea border.

The east-west part of the Belfast Agreement was severely strained, and the longstanding understanding that any proposal had to have the agreement of the majority of Unionists and the majority of Nationalists in Northern Ireland was thrown out of the window.

That fundamental mistake has taken years to remedy, and indeed, if the DUP had listened to the naysayers, they would not even have tried to remedy the issue.

As someone who believes passionately in the United Kingdom, and the benefits it brings to all our people, I did inwardly wince when I heard the leader of Sinn Féin’s declaration yesterday that a United Ireland was within touching distance.

This is the sort of dog whistle politics I have been listening to for all my life from Sinn Féin.

It’s designed to placate the Republican faithful, because some of them will be thinking “Hold on – have the DUP made gains here?”

They should revisit some of Gerry Adam’s predictions over the past 40 years and see if any of them have come true.

Instead of looking for partnership, Sinn Féin will be trying to divide Unionism over the next few weeks and months – it was ever thus.

We should not allow them to attack our confidence in the UK, or indeed in the strength of Northern Ireland.

This poking of Unionism in the eye will continue over the next while as Sinn Féin try to steady their activists.

Watch how they declare the historic nature of Michelle O’Neill becoming First Minister of the North (they can’t say Northern Ireland as they would go up in flames if they did).

The reality is of course that she is in a joint office with whoever the DUP put forward as Deputy First Minister, and cannot act without joint agreement on decisions.

Make no mistake about it – Michelle O’Neill, for all the noise and bluster you will hear over the next few days, is administering British rule in our part of the United Kingdom.

I hope my Unionist friends and colleagues can now get on the front foot, rather than shooting themselves in the foot, and put forward the positive case for the Union and the United Kingdom.

Over the coming days, I will be looking at ways to increase connectivity across the Kingdom, including in infrastructure, trade, culture, education and many other areas.

Let’s make this a starting point for positive, modern Unionism.

There is much to do – the future is bright if we choose it to be.

This Opinion piece first appeared in the Daily Express yesterday (Wednesday).