A “surge” of support for Lord Trimble’s legal action against the Brexit backstop has seen him raise almost £10,000 in two days.
At the start of this week the informal group supporting the former first minister’s judicial review made an urgent appeal to prospective supporters to donate money so that the case can get into court and there has been a significant response through an online crowdfunding effort.
The Conservative peer’s legal action is being taken in conjunction with the veteran gay rights campaigner Jeffrey Dudgeon, now Ulster Unionist councillor, and the journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Mr Dudgeon said he was pleased at the “surge” in support and said he was also seeking “significant single larger donations” from wealthy individuals.
It is understood that a letter of claim is to be sent to the government within days.
Documentation circulated to prospective backers argues that the proposed backstop – which could see Northern Ireland diverge from the rest of the UK after Brexit – is in contravention of the 1998 Belfast Agreement, of which Lord Trimble was the key unionist architect.
That argument is in direct conflict with that of Dublin and Brussels which argue that such post-Brexit special status for Northern Ireland is essential because of the Agreement.
The legal challenge proposes that the court make a declaration that resolving the border issue should be for the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
But Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell told the BBC: “I’d actually be quite surprised if David goes through with his legal case. I think he’d be wasting quite a lot of someone else’s money.”