Following DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s threat to the EU, Jim Allister, leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party, claimed the countdown to finally resolving the Northern Ireland protocol has begun. The TUV, which supports the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, insisted the DUP must now back up its demands regarding the protocol. In a furious attack, the TUV leader hit out at the DUP for not fighting hard enough against the hated protocol throughout Brexit.
As Sir Jeffrey pledged to pull his ministers out of the Stormont Executive before November, Mr Allister insisted the countdown to 5D-Day over the protocol is in motion.
He said today: “From an ill-considered start of speaking of ‘opportunities’ within the protocol and despising those who wished to keep fighting it, the DUP’s rhetoric has radically changed.
“Now, with them the issue is proof through delivery.
“Broader loyalism gets it and has stood firm, putting many elected unionist politicians to shame.
“TUV has led the way in relentless opposition to the protocol and will not weaken.
“The immutable reality is that if the price of Stormont is implementing such self-destruction, then no unionist who cares for more than their salary should be conflicted about what needs to happen.
“I am grateful that realisation may have dawned on some. Now, our job is to keep them to their word.
“It is 50 days until Jeffrey Donaldson’s promised D-Day.
“Then, we will all see and know what DUP words are worth. If an election follows, good. TUV is ready.”
The protocol has caused increased strain on businesses in Northern Ireland due to the raft of checks for goods moving between the country and Great Britain.
Although Lord David Frost revealed the UK would suspend multiple grace periods for goods indefinitely, Sir Jeffrey claimed the protocol cannot work as it currently stands.
If significant changes are not made, Sir Jeffrey claimed the DUP would force the collapse of the Northern Ireland assembly.
He said: “We are totally opposed to the protocol as it presently exists.
“We will neither accept it nor will we work it. In my assessment, the timeframe for resolving issues can be measured in weeks and not months or years.
“If, in the final analysis, those who are democratically elected by the people of Northern Ireland lack the power to prevent such checks, and the protocol issues remain, then the position in office of DUP ministers would become untenable.
“Let me be clear: if the choice is ultimately between remaining in office or implementing the protocol in its present form, then the only option for any unionist minister would be to cease to hold such office.”
The Northern Ireland protocol was agreed within the withdrawal agreement and places within the EU’s single market.
Although Northern Ireland is also part of the UK’s customs union, checks must be made on goods moving from Great Britain and the province.