TUV leader warns DUP over a return to Stormont as Northern Ireland Protocol legislation expected

TUV leader Jim Allister has cautioned against a return to Stormont by the DUP – even if legislation is introduced today which addresss unionist concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

By Niall Deeney
Monday, 13th June 2022, 6:01 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2022, 10:37 am

Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Allister said that even if the legislation meets unionist “yardsticks”, it will remain a “very long way off being the law of the land”.

The North Antrim MLA said: “I heard the secretary of state talking about his hope that the DUP would be dashing back into government. I certainly hope they are not because, surely, unionism has been bitten often enough by the dishonesty of this government over the protocol.

“It [unionism] certainly needs to see action, not mere words, because this legislation – even if it’s right in its form, as introduced – is a very long way off being the law of the land. Unless or until such legislation is the law of the land, I don’t think unionism should be giving up any of the leeway it has in respect of Stormont.”

Jim Allister said unionism 'has been bitten often enough by the dishonesty of this government'

He said he would “wait and see” what the legislation would set out, but was clear in what he is hoping to see from the government today.

“First of all, it must address the fact that the present legislation – section 7a of the Withdrawal Act of 2018 – gives supremacy to the protocol over the Act of Union and, indeed, any other domestic legislation. So, the legislation needs to set that aside to restore the integrity of Article 6 and other parts of the Act of Union.

“It needs to then remove us from the ambit of foreign laws and jurisdiction. So that’s the test for the legislation. Whether it does any of that remains to be seen, but those are certainly yardsticks by which I’ll measure it.”

Asked if he believed the government could achieve that without breaching international law, Mr Allister said: “It wouldn’t constitute a breach of international law. International treaties have only domestic effect when they’re given legislative effect, and that’s what the Withdrawal Acts of 2018 and 2020 did.

“To give the protocol domestic effect they passed section 7a, which says that the protocol has supremacy in terms of domestic law. Just as Parliament passed that, so Parliament can repeal that. It is perfectly within its ambit to do that, and that’s what it needs to do.”