Ex-MP David Burnside likens Boris Johnson’s NI Protocol stance to Chamberlain, and urges boycott of Irish government
A former Ulster Unionist MP has likened Boris Johnson’s acceptance of the Irish Sea border to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler.
In a ferocious denunciation of the Northern Ireland Protocol which creates that border, David Burnside said that the arrangement “makes loyal British subjects in the province second class citizens in their own country”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the former South Antrim MP said that “attempts to modify or amend this provision are akin to putting a sticking plaster on a fatal wound”.
Mr Burnside said that the protocol was “shamefully cobbled together to get the Brexit deal over the line by a Conservative and, supposedly, Unionist government. Like Chamberlain at Munich, Boris Johnson will find appeasement only buys time and never victory.”
Mr Burnside was one of several UUP grandees who published an open letter prior to the EU Referendum in which they said: “We should not fear an exit from being governed and dictated to from Brussels. As net contributors to Europe, and net importers from Europe, the United Kingdom will benefit, not be harmed, from new trade arrangements.”
However, writing in The Daily Telegraph Mr Burnside said that the protocol was “damaging trade, delaying or stopping GB-based businesses from sending goods to Northern Ireland, taking choice off the supermarket shelves, blocking the export of pedigree livestock to the mainland and halting the supply of garden plants and trees to the province.”
Appealing for unionist unity, he said: “While all this is going on, the Democratic Unionist Party is tearing itself apart.
“It has lost two leaders in as many months and is now on a third, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson...I never understood why Donaldson left the Ulster Unionists to join the DUP. Reading his authorised biography ‘Not by Might’, it seems to have been for religious rather than political reasons.”
Mr Burnside urged: “Unionism and loyalism need to be prepared, in the short term, to veto, protest and boycott the North/South bodies set up under the Good Friday Agreement.
“All Unionist ministers should decline any meetings with Irish counterparts and the Dublin political establishment should be made unwelcome at a political and social level throughout the province.
“Had it not been for the pandemic there would be much stronger militancy on the streets.”
Quoting Randolph Churchill from more than a century ago, Mr Burnside said that Churchill had “warned his Westminster colleagues that ‘Ulster Will Fight and Ulster Will Be Right’. The Unionists of Northern Ireland, in the centenary year of the province, once more need to stand together to defend their links to the UK.”
However, last night new Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie rejected the call to break off relations with Dublin.
He told the News Letter that unionism needed to be united in opposition to the protocol “but the only way to fix it is through more engagement, not less”.
He added: “Standing rooted to the spot sucking our teeth is not going to fix the problems that we have...refusing to talk helps nobody and won’t change one thing.”
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