New DUP leader designate Edwin Poots concedes NI protocol could remain in place until December 2024
The new DUP leader designate, Edwin Poots, has conceded that that the Northern Ireland Protocol remaining in situ until December 2024 is a "possibility".
In an in-depth interview with BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster, Stephen Nolan, Mr. Poots said the Northern Ireland Protocol is "so damaging for all of Northern Ireland".
The NI Protocol is part of the United Kingdom's withdrawal agreement with the European Union.
The protocol was designed, agreed and ratified by both the government in Westminster and the European Union.
Mr. Poots was asked by Stephen Nolan if it was possible the NI Protocol could remain in place until when the first consent vote is due in December 2024.
"I would certainly hope not," said Mr. Poots.
"It's a possibility but it's not a probability - I believe we will make progress on this.
"The protocol is so damaging for all of Northern Ireland.
"I know nationalists and republicans in particular like the idea of creating some sort of barrier - I don't understand why Alliance are in that position.
"That barrier is hurting every citizen in Northern Ireland - whether it's your Amazon parcel, your paracetamol in the cupboard or the food on your table, these costs are going up."
Stephen Nolan put it to Mr. Poots that given the DUP's support for Brexit, the protocol was an inevitable consequence stemming from the UK leaving both the European Union's single market and customs union.
"I am not owning the protocol because the protocol is something that was pushed and forced upon us by the Irish government in conjunction with Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance.
"The protocol is an absolutely unnecessary part of the Brexit process.
"Why are all these checks necessary?
"Why, for example, in eastern Europe, right at the eastern border with the European Union, that there is less checks there than there is between Great Britain and Northern Ireland?," asked Mr. Poots.
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