Henry McDonald: Will Boris Johnson deliver beyond his rhetoric?

In his statement to the News Letter on Thursday night, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson got his retaliation in first against his political opponents even before it was officially confirmed the DUP wouldn’t name an Assembly speaker the next day.

By Henry McDonald
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 14th May 2022, 11:34 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland on Monday
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland on Monday

In a barbed reference to parties who were mocking the threat of decisive DUP action over the Protocol only a few months ago, Sir Jeffrey noted these same parties are now “feigning surprise and outrage at a political party keeping its promise to the electorate”.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the DUP’s move on Friday afternoon in the Assembly, it is fair to say that at least they fulfilled a core manifesto commitment to their electorate in promising not to go back into an Executive unless there was a radical overhaul of the Protocol. For a party often accused by its unionist rivals of zig-zagging around the political landscape and doing more U-turns than an Olympic gymnast, the DUP can point to this election and its aftermath and claim they were consistent, faithful, true to their core promise.

Another political figure who is regularly taunted for making more twists and turns than a circus contortionist is Boris Johnson, who is scheduled to arrive in Belfast this coming Monday.

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For unionists, his most notorious U-turn was the Protocol itself which he bulldozed through in order to get a hard Brexit but in doing so betrayed his former DUP allies.

The chatter over a unilateral UK move to make significant changes to the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU is reaching fever pitch.

The question is will the Prime Minister, like the DUP and their ‘Protocol or powersharing pledge’, deliver beyond the rhetoric and ring in the Protocol changes?

• Other commentary:

• Editorial May 11: Liz Truss hints at action on NI Protocol but unionists are right to be wary