In a series of recent events, the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland has demanded Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson allows for the province to trade freely with the rest of the UK again, something it is currently constrained in through EU rules.
To do this, they have vowed to overturn the rules that allow this to happen, in particular the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been very controversial in Ulster since its incorporation into post-Brexit trade with the EU.
Representatives from the DUP, including their leader Arlene Foster and MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, have argued this case. The former has stated on her Twitter account that: “We will continue to work with others to send a very clear message of opposition to the Protocol.”
The latter has argued that in the “centenary year of Northern Ireland, we expect the Government and the Prime Minister to act to address and resolve these issues and to replace the protocol with arrangements that respect Northern Ireland’s place within the UK”.
In response to this criticism, several Government spokespeople have argued in favour of the status quo. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee chairman, Simon Hoare, said: “We cannot just dismiss these concerns; they need to be addressed, but calling for the triggering of Article 16 or abandonment of the Protocol is, I would suggest, naïve and premature and hopefully not needed.”
The Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Robin Walker, also noted that they would consider “all instruments at our disposal, including invoking Article 16 if necessary, to protect the interests of the people of Northern Ireland and safeguard the effective movement of goods, people, services and capital throughout the United Kingdom”.
This took place during a debate on the subject, which had been triggered by an online Government e-petition, which asked the Government to “Trigger Article 16. We want unfettered GB-NI Trade.”
The petition has amassed 142,476 signatures at the time of publication.