DUP and UUP are quietly moving away from the demand to remove Northern Ireland Protocol entirely

A letter from Kirk McDowell:

The two unionist parties are electioneering for May’s election, rather than taking urgent action against the border
The two unionist parties are electioneering for May’s election, rather than taking urgent action against the border

As we approach the first anniversary of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the recent contributions to the News Letter from Lords Dodds (‘Kate Hoey and I are trying to restore Stormont protections,’ Dec 17) and Empey (‘DUP must accept their role in this mess and drop mad plan to collapse Stormont,’ Dec 21)along with Peter Robinson (‘The noxious poison of two Ps, pandemic and protocol,’ Dec 24) make for a worrying read for unionists (see below for links to these articles).

It is clear that the focus of both the DUP and Ulster Unionists is now on electioneering for May’s assembly election, rather than taking urgent and principled action against the Protocol.

Lord Dodds talks in riddles about how someday soon ... the DUP will do ... something, but he does not seem at liberty to say what or when.

Letter to the editor

Lord Empey dismissed the possibility of collapsing the assembly. Instead he talks about the need for renegotiation. However he completely fails to explain what unionism will negotiate with.

If unionists rule out withdrawing from the assembly, then what other non-violent action will force the advocates of the protocol to address their concerns?

It is clear that both parties are quietly trying to move away from their position that the protocol must be removed in its entirety.

Whilst, Peter Robinson notes that the implementation of protocol puts unionist ministers in the executive in an unsustainable position, he rather ambiguously states that what is now needed is “rock solid commitments of how the protocol is to be dealt with”. A commitment from a prime minster who in the same article Mr Robinson states “has turned prevarication and promise-breaking into an art form”.

Mr Robinson once said that he could ‘smell fudge cooking’ when it came to the negotiations regarding the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It would seem that the DUP and UUP are now trying to bake their own brand of political fudge. A message that will be appealing to a sufficient number of voters just long enough to minimise losses in May’s Assembly election.

A big part of the recipe may involve a DUP walkout of the executive in the coming weeks. However this will now have no effect as both the government and the EU know that the DUP and UUP are not prepared to sacrifice devolution. It will be just considered a tantrum which must be tolerated until the election is over.

Grassroots unionists must now make it clear to both parties they will not be fooled! If they must choose then resisting the protocol’s continued implementation, is far more important than maintaining devolution. There is no appetite for fudge!

Kirk McDowell, Belfast BT5

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