DUP leader writes to party members as deadline for election looms

Sir Jeffrey DonaldsonSir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
DUP members have been briefed that the party’s Stormont boycott will continue while the NI Protocol remains in place – even if that means an election will be triggered.

In an email to all members, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the powersharing executive can only be restored “when the protocol is replaced by arrangements that unionists can support”.

He said: “No unionist MLAs or MPs support the protocol. That, as I warned 18 months ago, is not compatible with a functioning executive. The protocol debris needs removed if the devolved government foundations are to be stabilised. You can’t proceed with powersharing if one community is not on board. It doesn’t work.”

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NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has repeatedly stated that there is a legal obligation on the UK Government to call an election if the Assembly is not formed by this Friday.

Sir Jeffrey’s email says the protocol “has polluted every area of government,” and adds: “When a new Prime Minister is in place, if they want to see a fully functioning Stormont, they will have to deal with the protocol once and for all. Short term fixes will be a disservice to Northern Ireland. That has been tried in the past.

"Everyone in Northern Ireland deserves a solution which can allow Stormont ministers to get on with their job and make Northern Ireland a better place.”

However, Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney has accused the DUP of being “unreasonable,” saying it was never possible to address the DUP’s demands within a timeframe that would make an election unnecessary.

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“An election that happens because (of) an ask that is impossible to deliver in the timeframe that we have, between now and next Friday, seems a very unreasonable basis to force an election in NI,” Mr Coveney told RTE.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s campaign team have told supporters they have secured the 100 nominations needed from MPs for the former prime minister to get on the Tory leadership ballot paper, it has been reported.

Chris Heaton-Harris has sent a Whatsapp message to supporters confirming they have the numbers, according to The Sun’s political editor Harry Cole.