Unionists are already calling for Article 16 of NI Protocol to be invoked and they have good reason to do so given how it is panning out

News Letter editorial of January 7 2021:

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 8:48 am
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 10:57 am
News Letter editorial

Increasing attention is now being given to Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It says that if applying the protocol leads to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade, the EU or UK may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures”.

Unionists are already moving towards calling for it to be invoked. It is a radical step, yes, but then what is happening is radical.

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The most charitable explanation is that our vain and untrustworthy prime minister did not understand what he agreed with Leo Varadkar in 2019.

Boris Johnson’s claim about no need for forms for business crossing NI-GB was misleading because there is a barrier the other way. His later pledge of an Irish Sea border “over his dead body” is already shown to be rubbish.

Brandon Lewis on radio yesterday repeated the old line that it was only an extension of existing “phytosanitary checks”.It is not — it is now a major economic barrier in the Irish Sea, and we have been reporting on its major consequences daily.

It is a betrayal of Northern Ireland’s place in the UK by the prime minister, now given cover by Michael Gove.

Dublin was slavishly loyal to the EU and gave no succour to London at all in EU talks.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance wanted rigorous implementation of the protocol , and they have got it.

It is welcome that businessmen such as the freight transport boss Mark Cosgrove, the UUP MLA John Stewart and yesterday the DUP MP Ian Paisley Junior are now calling for Article 16 to be applied. Mr Paisley, however, chased a soft target, Seamus Leheny of Logistics UK (formerly known as the Freight Transport Association).

While it is appalling that all the business groups supported the backstop, and its idea that the Irish land border above all had to be completely open, the key culprit in the economic detachment of Northern Ireland from Great Britain is this supposed Conservative and Unionist government.

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Alistair Bushe