“This legislation offers the opportunity to lift the long shadow of the Protocol and restore cross-community consensus,” he said.
“We’ve been patient but determined in our resolve to see the Protocol dealt with and Northern Ireland’s place within the UK respected.
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“Our warnings were ignored by the pro-Protocol parties.
“Attempts to discuss issues within the Northern Ireland Executive were blocked and the impact on devolution dismissed by some parties.
“Those same parties which preached the doctrine of consensus and cross-community consent previously, now bond themselves into a cosy coalition which advocates majority rule and the exclusion of unionists.
“Progress can never be made in Northern Ireland if the views of more than 40% of the electorate are dismissed and side-lined.
“It is notable that whilst many of these same parties have sought to criticise the Government for bringing forward legislation to deal with the Irish Sea border, they fail to raise any real concerns about the bill’s contents.
“Whilst making claims about international law, they close their eyes to principle of consent embedded within the Belfast Agreement.
“Whilst citing economic arguments, they have never provided any rationale for their desire to hamper trade between Northern Ireland and our single largest market.
“Swift progress of this bill through the legislative process can see the Assembly and Executive restored.”
He added that anyone who frustrates that “could only be doing so with the intention of further pushing back the prospect of progress in Northern Ireland”.