VIDEO: Three Unionist leaders unite against Northern Ireland protocol at Conservative conference
Leaders of Northern Ireland’s three main Unionist parties shared a platform to strongly criticize the Northern Ireland Protocol during an event on the sidelines of the Conservative Party conference on Monday.
Sir Jeffrey also met the Prime Minister where he reiterated his call for government action in a few weeks.
The protocol was agreed by the UK and the EU as a way to maintain a fluid land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
Trade unionists in Northern Ireland oppose its terms, which provide for additional checks on goods arriving in the region from the rest of the UK, seeing it as a border in the Irish Sea.
Last month, Sir Jeffrey threatened to collapse power-sharing institutions in Stormont if his protocol demands were not met.
He told the Manchester side event: “We just cannot allow this situation to continue. And we need to see action taken by the government within a few weeks.
“What we need now is to move beyond the words of the command document released in July which were good and provided a roadmap for moving forward. We need action.
“We need the government to stand up and take action to remove this border from the Irish Sea, remove trade barriers within the UK and basically restore Northern Ireland’s place in the UK. UK domestic market. At the heart of it all is the future of the union itself.
Regarding his threat to collapse Stormont, Sir Jeffrey said: “I cannot stand a situation where we are forced to use the political institutions of Northern Ireland to implement the protocol which aims to undermine our place. within the Union. “
Earlier, Brexit Minister Lord Frost gave a speech at the conference in which he said if the UK and EU fail to strike a deal Britain would consider what is being considered like the nuclear option to trigger article 16.
Sir Jeffrey replied: “Triggering Article 16 has its uses in the short term, but what we need to fully restore Northern Ireland’s place within the UK is UK law. “
The DUP leader was joined at the event by Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie, TUV leader Jim Allister and former UUP leader Lord Trimble.
Mr Beattie told the sideline event that he did not agree with the threat to bring down Stormont’s institutions.
He said: “I don’t think institutional collapse is good for Northern Ireland. I don’t think it’s good for people.
“I can’t look people in the face, those 300,000 people on hospital waiting lists and say we’re going to bring down an institution that’s supposed to take care of you.”
Mr Allister told the meeting that the protocol separated Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
He said: “In Manchester today – by virtue of the principles and objectives of the protocol – I am in a ‘third country’ as regards the Northern Ireland governed by the protocol.
“It is an affront to our supposed status as an integral part of the United Kingdom and an intolerable affront to our Britishness. Is it an affront to the Conservative and Unionist Party?
He added: “Brexit was supposed to be about ‘taking back control’; in our case, it was about ceding control. We did not have Brexit, we had the Brexit refusal protocol.
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