Jim Allister: Unionism must get serious about the Protocol, play-acting won’t cut it
This week in Belfast High Court a QC, instructed by Her Majesty’s Government, argued that in fact the key component of Acts of Union, which established this United Kingdom, and which guaranteed free and unfettered trade across and within the U.K., had been repealed by the Withdrawal Act and its Protocol!
To reconcile the obvious conflict between Article 6 of the Acts of Union and the trade-disrupting Protocol, he argued on HMG’s instructions that Article 6 had been impliedly repealed by the Protocol.
Here it is in black and white:- “to the extent that the approval and domestic implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol as provided for by Parliament is inconsistent with specific aspects of Article 6 of the Act of Union, the Act of Union will, to the extent necessary to give effect to ensure that Parliament’s will as expressed in the more recent enactments are given effect, be impliedly repealed.”
That is a staggering and constitutionally destructive statement: a cornerstone of the Union is gone, according to this Conservative & Unionist government - and that on foot of their own conscious actions in parliament!
Anyone who doubted that the Protocol dismantles the Union must face reality - it does and was intended to do so!
Thus, a response from the new proclaimed leader of Unionism, Edwin Poots, that ultimately in four years’ time the Assembly can vote down the Protocol, while all the time he continues to implement it, is wholly inadequate.
In 2024 the Assembly can vote only against only Arts 5-10 of the Protocol, not it all.
This matter needs to be brought to a head politically, now. Indeed it is that which will leave no vacuum to be filled by others suggesting violence.
So, what needs to happen?
Cease all implementation of checks and border post operations which continue under Mr Poots’ control.
Unequivocally refuse to operate north/southery because the supposed balance of east/west relations has been trashed.
Be prepared to face any political/legal consequences of the above, including forcing the PM, if it comes to that, to choose between saving the Protocol or saving Stormont. There is no benefit in a Vichy Stormont and no honour in being our own destroyers.
Unionism must get serious about defeating the Protocol. Play-acting won’t cut it.