The main problem with the Northern Ireland Protocol is its impact on the constitution, not trade

A letter from RG McDowell:

By Letters
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 1:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 1:15 am
Unionism has done the right thing by refusing to take part in a power sharing executive at Stormont
Unionism has done the right thing by refusing to take part in a power sharing executive at Stormont

There can be little doubt that unionism has done the right thing by refusing to take part in a power sharing executive until the protocol has been resolved and while this has pushed unionist concerns to the fore there remains an ongoing battle to win this argument.

Unionism should be cautious not to over focus on trade issues.

Trade issues are the symptom of what is really a constitutional problem. Too often the national media portrays the issue as simply being about trade arrangements.

Letter to the editor

Even if some unionist leaders want to keep their options open to potentially having to accept something less than a full repeal of the protocol at some point I still feel they would be wise to focus on constitutional arguments to exert maximum pressure.

By focusing too much on trade issues unionists fall foul of the fact that a majority of Northern Ireland’s elected representatives support the protocol as an economic measure.

The protocol is also a mixed bag economically potentially harming some businesses but maybe helping others. These issues help Dublin and EU spokespersons.

It is clear these same people struggle to defend their position when journalists occasionally ask them if they would accept such measures within their own country or how the deal they say was struck to save the peace process can be viable when the assembly is not able to function because of it.

They often revert to having to say we didn’t ask for Brexit.

This is effectively saying we won’t accept Brexit if it includes Northern Ireland.

If the UK cannot alter VAT in a part of its own country, if NI is treated like a foreign country for trade etc this is NI’s constitutional position having been altered without the principle of consent being observed.

This is unionism’s strongest argument for which our opponents have no credible answer and should be our constant focus in the ongoing tug of war that is the Northern Ireland Protocol.

No protocol of any substance can survive NI remaining within the UK.

Only our partial or full exclusion can make it viable.

Mr RG McDowell, Belfast BT5