DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has warned that Unionist support for peace process agreements in Northern Ireland is “falling away” as a result of the Brexit Protocol.
This comes as the Progressive Unionist Party said that it could no longer support the 1998 Good Friday Agreement because it believes that the border in the Irish Sea had undermined an important policy – the principle of consent.
Progressive Unionist Partry leader Billy Hutchinson said there was no basis for unionists to retain support for the peace deal that established the power-sharing institutions at Stormont.
Donaldson stated, “The PUP are very clear – they’re not wanting people to go back to violence and they have condemned violence on our streets.”
“But it is a matter of concern that support for the agreements and political institutions is falling away, and not least within unionism itself.”
Donaldson said that the protocol “upsets the constitutional balance” at the heart of the agreement while adding that it “undermines our relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom in a way that is unacceptable to unionists.”
He also accused Dublin and Brussels of engaging in “megaphone diplomacy” over the potential of a trade war with the UK, saying that it was causing “harm and damage” as well as building up tensions between the EU and the UK. Donaldson said that he doubts the EU would risk the trade deal due to its reliance on UK consumers.
“Germany, the biggest trading nation in the EU, the United Kingdom is its biggest market in Europe, it’s the second biggest market for Germany in the whole world.”
He questioned if anybody would “seriously believe that the Germans want to open a trade war with the United Kingdom? That’s not the answer here.”
“The answer is to sit around the table and agree on a solution. If the EU can’t do that, if the EU prefers instead to choose rhetoric, to choose a trade war over the need to protect the political process in Northern Ireland, then I’m sad about that.”
IMAGE – “File:Official portrait of Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson crop 1.jpg” by Chris McAndrew is licensed under CC BY 3.0