Gregory Campbell: It is leadership, not weakness, to give time for the Northern Ireland Protocol talks to run their course

A letter from Gregory Campbell MP:

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 2:43 am
Updated Thursday, 13th January 2022, 2:50 am
Jim Allister with DUP colleagues in the 2004 MEP election, from left Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds, Jeffrey Donaldson and Ian Paisley. Mr Allister . He had walked away from politics between 1987 and then, says Gregory Campbell

The Irish Sea border is a seismic threat to political stability and economic prosperity in every corner of Northern Ireland.

The government’s decision to sign off on these arrangements, bypassing the requirement for cross-community consent, was an act of self-harm that has undermined the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

The challenge this presents for our Province and for the Union cannot be overstated. Rising to meet it will require every Unionist and every unionist party to put narrow differences aside and stand together.

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A failure to pull in the same direction could land a fatal blow to our common objective of restoring Northern Ireland’s rightful place in the UK internal market.

With this in mind, attempts to discredit my party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson by Jim Allister are not only baseless but hugely damaging to our cause (‘Jim Allister: The leader of unionism needs to avoid the tag Jeffrey Do-Little,’ January 11, see link below0.

Division within the unionist family simply plays into the hand of our opponents, including the protocol’s biggest cheerleaders at Stormont.

Unlike Jim, Jeffrey served our community in the Ulster Defence Regiment. He put on a uniform to defend the Province against terrorism. He faced our enemies head on.

Jim walked away from politics in the 1980s when the going got tough because he wasn’t getting his own way. He walked off the pitch whilst many of of us stood our ground and faced down the terrorists and their apologists.

Indeed even after the ceasefires Jim still maintained his ‘opt out’ of politics. Even in 1998 when we fought the release of terrorist prisoners and the dismantlement of the RUC, Jim was missing.

Jim is keen to cast judgement now but he was missing in action until his return in 2004.

The reality is that important progress in removing the Irish Sea border has been made. As a result of the DUP strategy, the EU has been forced to abandon their age-old mantra that the protocol was not open for re-negotiation.

We know that a return to the talks table does not guarantee an acceptable outcome, however it is not a sign of weakness to afford space for time-limited negotiations to run their course. This is the calm and sensible leadership that is needed.

We have made it clear that the government should publish a timeline for delivering on its Command Paper and the statement of intent provided by the UK’s newly appointed lead negotiator Liz Truss.

Gregory Campbell MP, DUP, East Londonderry

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