If unionist ministers, or prospective ministers, are committed to the removal of the Union-dismantling Protocol, then they must see the imperative to counter the destruction of our vital economic East/West links by disrupting the institutionalised North/South processes.
Otherwise, they acquiesce in the implementation and intent of the iniquitous protocol and thereby encourage Brussels and Dublin to think opposition will blow over.
Any unionist who sees the overriding necessity of defeating the protocol, cannot, therefore, in good conscience serve in the Stormont Executive, because to do so all ministers must take a ‘Pledge of Office’ committing themselves to fully operate the North/South institutions.
I, therefore, respectfully suggest to the incoming DUP leadership that, in addition to challenging the surrender of devolved powers over the Irish language, they need to face up to the fact that if they truly believe North/South relations can’t continue as normal, because our East/West links have been trashed, then, on principle and in conscience they cannot take the Pledge of Office.
It is time for stands of principle. There is none better than one rooted in defending the integrity of our United Kingdom. Thus, the DUP, I believe, should refuse to nominate while the protocol remains, because to do so is to give up their greatest leverage and involves solemnly pledging to give up legitimate and necessary protest on the North/South front.
The most critical thing at present is to demonstrate to HMG that unionists are not going to lie down under the protocol and that far from sustaining the Belfast Agreement institutions it is destroying them.
The matter must be brought to a head politically. There is no better time to do so. Protocol or Stormont — that is the real choice.
Jim Allister TUV leader
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