DUP policy director quits on point of principle over party's position on the Irish Sea Border

The former Conservative had left the party over the NI Protocol to join the DUP - which he has now quit over the same issue.The former Conservative had left the party over the NI Protocol to join the DUP - which he has now quit over the same issue.
The former Conservative had left the party over the NI Protocol to join the DUP - which he has now quit over the same issue.
The DUP’s Director of Policy and Research has quit over the party’s Safeguarding the Union deal and its direction of travel on accepting the Windsor Framework.

It is the first significant resignation from the party over the issue, which at one point appeared to have the potential to split the party.

Dan Boucher had worked for the party since September 2022, after quitting the Conservative Party in protest at its imposition of separate trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

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It is understood he tendered his resignation from the job earlier this month, as he could no longer reconcile himself with the position the party had taken under its deal with the government to reduce checks on the Irish Sea border. He remains a DUP member.

It is also understood that he didn’t step down after the infamous Larchfield meeting where the party’s executive ratified the deal, as he wished to wait and see if it lived up to the promises made by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson – such as the claim that the green lane had been removed.

Having seen the subsequent legislation accompanying the deal, Mr Boucher decided that his position was no longer tenable and resigned.

It is believed he finished working for the DUP on Friday.

A former Tory parliamentary candidate in Wales, he had moved his young family to Northern Ireland after he started working for the DUP.

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He remains close to prominent figures opposed to the party’s deal with the government.

It is the first significant resignation from the DUP over the issue – despite a stark policy difference between those who support the current arrangements as a ‘best of both worlds’ opportunity for Northern Ireland – and those who see it is an economic and constitutional disaster for the Union.

Whilst the party remains divided on the deal, the shock of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s departure has forged a sense of party unity with a public truce and a rallying behind the interim leader Gavin Robinson.

Dan Boucher was respected within the party and his resignation came as a shock to prominent figures who had worked closely with him, particularly on issues related to the protocol.

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He was born in England but moved with his family to Swansea in Wales, where he stood for the Tories in 2017 General Election as the lead Conservative candidate in Wales and in the 2019 Euro-elections.

He first spoke out about the impact of the Protocol on the union in an article on Comment Central in July 2021, before quitting the Conservative party over the issue.

At the time, former Tory leader and prominent Europsceptic Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP said he was sorry to see Mr Boucher leaving the Conservative Party.

“The reason he has given - that the Northern Ireland Protocol is acting against the continuation of the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - will resonate with many in the Conservative and Unionist Party.

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“No less a figure than David Trimble, co-architect of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and Nobel Peace Laureate has made it clear that he fears the Protocol is already damaging the agreement with terrible potential consequences.

“It is therefore critical that this problem of the dysfunctional Protocol is dealt with and that it is replaced by a system of Mutual Enforcement, before it is too late.

“That Dan has chosen to leave the Conservative Party because of this issue is a matter of regret but I hope it turns out well for him.”

His relationship with unionists in Northern Ireland stretches back some time.

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In 2012 he suggested to DUP chairman Lord Morrow the private members bill that later became the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act 2015.

Writing in the News Letter in defence of the Safeguarding the Union deal Gavin Robinson said: “The DUP set out to remove the internal trade border in the Irish Sea and that is exactly what we have achieved.

“Our detractors argue that this isn’t the case and that the frontier still exists - but what they fail to acknowledge is that the yardstick they are using to measure progress is far different to ours”.

It is now clear that the party’s director of policy did not agree.

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