There is still no sign of a major change in the DUP’s approach towards the Irish Sea border

News Letter editorial of Friday June 4 2021:

Friday, 4th June 2021, 8:00 am
News Letter editorial

A political party is entitled to remove a leader for whatever reason it wants.

It might think an incumbent leader does not have enough electoral appeal or it might disagree with the direction in which the leader is taking the party or be unhappy with a range of other factors.

Peter Robinson in his column today, opposite, clearly thinks that Arlene Foster has been badly treated. Edwin Poots has previously admitted that her removal as DUP leader was a difficult process but said that politics was tough.

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However, the most important issue for unionism now relates to policy, not personality. And so there is one thing on which we all will need clarity from Mr Poots and soon. Has DUP policy changed at all under the new leadership?

If the party is not putting up any significant opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol then there is little point in playing voters for fools and pretending otherwise.

Mr Poots held “frank discussions” with the Irish government yesterday in Dublin and repeated that NI cannot be a “plaything” of the EU. But it is such a plaything. In fact it is worse than a plaything. The Act of Union has been partially repealed and Lord Frost, for all his touring of NI to hear different voices on the Irish Sea border, is part of a government that keeps reiterating its commitment to the disastrous protocol.

The DUP has not made any significant attempts to halt border infrastructure. It has occasionally seemed to be shunning North South arrangements before returning to them. Now Mr Poots intends to lead a team into the next north-south ministerial meeting on June 18.

He is under pressure from Sinn Fein to enact Irish language laws when the protocol has been imposed without consent. Mr Poots is talking about how the protocol pushes up costs for low paid consumers, which is a shocking manifestation of the protocol but is only a part of something that diminishes UK sovereignty. Meanwhile the border, which has not even been fully implemented, is bedding in.

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Alistair Bushe

Editor