Northern Irish Unionist parties join forces to oppose Brexit protocol | Northern Irish politics
Four rival Unionist parties from Northern Ireland have formed an alliance to fight the Brexit protocol, issuing a joint statement weeks after the Democratic Unionist party threatened to leave Stormont if it is not removed.
It is seen as a significant attempt to show that the DUP’s hard-line stance is not isolated before the EU’s expected release of new proposals to meet UK demands to substantially rewrite the protocol.
In their statement, they warn of the “serious damage” inflicted by the protocol on Northern Ireland and say good relations with Ireland and the EU cannot be established as long as the region is subject to the laws of the EU, the basis of the protocol.
It was signed by the DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Traditional Unionist Voice and the Progressive Unionist Party.
“The enormous trade disruption in the supply of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland has caused unnecessary disruption of the supply chain and unacceptable and unsustainable levels of bureaucracy and trade barriers in the UK. within our own country.
“The resulting trade diversion and reorientation destroys Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and will lead to an unacceptable economic realignment,” they said.
The DUP, whose popularity has waned in the polls, threatened to quit Stormont’s executive earlier this month unless substantial changes are made to protocol.
He said he would do so “in a few weeks” and was condemned by rival parties, including some on the Unionist side.
The protocol was partially suspended after the UK unilaterally decided to extend a grace period for checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain to Northern Ireland.
But the EU has said it will not take retaliatory action and is expected to come up with new proposals to meet the UK’s demands after the Conservative Party’s conference next week.
The four sides warned that they could not support the protocol unless the EU and UK remove all controls on goods, dismantling the agreements. He called for “a proportionate and fair solution” to restore “barrier-free trade” to the UK’s internal market.
Some see the DUP’s stance as an attempt to position itself for Stormont’s election after a turbulent summer that included three changes at the top of the party. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the current leader, has made a series of high-profile media appearances over the past two weeks, including writing to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attaching a copy of the Good Friday peace agreement.