DUP pauses threat to Northern Ireland Protocol as Liz Truss keeps Article 16 on the table

Mon 10 Jan 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The DUP has rolled back its threat to withdraw from Northern Ireland’s devolved government administration, the Northern Ireland Executive, over deadlocked NI Protocol discussions with the EU.

The party said it would pause the threat because recently-appointed Brexit minister Liz Truss was bringing “new focus to the talks”.

Truss, who took over from Lord Frost before Christmas, is meeting the DUP and Sinn Fein today to discuss the protocol ahead of her first talks with EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic on Thursday.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Truss was “on the same page” as his party but would wait to see if her words are matched by actions, reports the BBC.

DUP threat

For months the DUP has threatened to collapse Stormont in opposition to the protocol, claiming it disrupts the livelihoods of Northern Ireland citizens and risks the constitutional integrity of the UK.

As the Northern Ireland Assembly can only operate if the largest unionist and nationalist parties cooperate, withdrawing DUP ministers would prevent it functioning.

Writing in the Telegraph, Truss said the problems of operating the protocol were “myriad and manifest” and that she would use Article 16 to “protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland”.

'Constructive Truss'

She said that Britain would put forward constructive proposals. However, she said the protocol was not working in key areas such as checks and documentation for goods movement, arrangements for pet travel, medicines and role of the European Court of Justice.

Sefcovic warned in December that the trade deal with the UK would collapse if the UK implemented Article 16, which is designed as a safeguard for either side to use.

She will host talks at Chevening, the foreign secretary’s grace and favour residence, reports Politico.

‘Not impressed’

The Article 16 threat has been described as “not very helpful” by the EU ambassador to Britain, Joao Vale de Almeida.

Speaking on Sky, he said: “We’ve heard this before from the government, so we’re not surprised. We are not too impressed.”

Calling for new momentum in talks, the ambassador added: “We are eager to reconnect but we are even more eager to find compromises because we need to move on. It’s been too long.”