EU protocols on Northern Ireland trade are 'nutty' says expert
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The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will put pressure on Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 46, to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol in 2022. The news comes after Brexit Minister Lord David Frost, 56, sent a letter of resignation to Boris Johnson, 57, and cited opposition to the Prime Minister’s Covid measures as the reason behind his departure from the Cabinet Office.
Ms Truss, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU back in the 2016 referendum, will take over from Lord Frost as the UK’s chief negotiator with the Brussels bloc.
Despite the DUP’s plan to heap the pressure on Whitehall, the UK Government has pulled away from a more combative negotiation strategy with the European Union in recent weeks.
Lord Frost, lauded as a “hero” by one Eurosceptic Tory MP, even accepted demands from the Brussels bloc for Ulster to remain subject to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, 59, previously said it was “unacceptable” for judges in Luxembourg to dictate law in Northern Ireland.
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The Lagan Valley MP, who tested positive with COVID-19 on Tuesday, said: “It is not acceptable for Northern Ireland to have to accept laws and the jurisdiction of a court over which we have no control and in which we have no say.”
DUP sources suggest the move to a more hardline stance on the Protocol comes as the Brexit-backing party prepares to defend their status as the largest party in Stormont.
A senior DUP source told the Telegraph: “There needs to be action.
“The Government has already said that the threshold for triggering Article 16 has been met.”
Another added: “If this is still going on in the background during the election period that would obviously create a whole world of complications, which aren’t good for anyone.”
Sir Jeffrey held remote talks with Ms Truss on Tuesday afternoon shortly after the MP for South West Norfolk received her new Brexit brief.
Sources close to the Foreign Secretary denied the DUP leader told Ms Truss to trigger Article 16 during their video call.
DUP concerns about the upcoming election come as surveys suggest both the Unionist party and nationalist-supporting Sinn Fein have fallen back from the 28 percent support they received in the 2017 Stormont election.
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But a LucidTalk survey from November found Sinn Fein, who received 24 percent of the vote in their poll, have now emerged as the frontrunner in the contest after they established a six-point lead over the DUP.
If emulated at the upcoming Stormont election, the DUP would have lost its 24-year run as Ulster’s largest devolved party and nationalists in Sinn Fein could celebrate loosening the Unionist grip on the executive.
Loyalist-supporters seem to have given a bump in support to the Ulster Unionist Party and Traditional Unionist Voice after they polled at 14 and 11 percent respectively.
Backing for the nationalist-leaning Social Democratic and Labour Party remains unchanged at 12 percent but the centrist Alliance Party currently looks set to breakthrough as Northern Ireland’s third-largest party on 15 percent.
There are also growing concerns the public mood in Ulster could be shifting in favour of a United Ireland.
A recent opinion poll conducted by the ex-deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Ashcroft, 75, found voters in Ulster would only narrowly vote in favour of remaining in the UK.
If the survey is weighted to discount those undecided or with no intention to turn up at a polling station, Northern Irish voters would opt to stay in the UK by 54 percent to 46 percent.
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