DUP welcomes Truss’ commitment to suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has welcomed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ pledge to suspend parts of the post-Brexit deal if an agreement cannot be reached with the European Union.

Talks continue between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is strongly opposed by unionists.

They view the numerous checks at Northern Ireland’s ports, while the region effectively remains in the EU single market to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, as a border in the Irish Sea.

Ms Truss said she would make “constructive suggestions” to her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic during talks on Thursday.

However, she said she was “ready” to invoke Article 16, which would suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol if an agreement cannot be reached.

This came after Sir Jeffrey repeated his threat to withdraw his ministers from the Stormont executive if no progress was made on the protocol.

However, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood condemned the threats to invoke Article 16 as “as tired as the DUP and Sinn Féin’s threats to collapse Stormont”.

Watch: The EU appears unimpressed by Liz Truss’ post-Brexit threats to Northern Ireland

“It doesn’t solve anything, it doesn’t help anyone, it’s just going to make things worse,” he said.

Sir Jeffrey will meet Ms Truss this week and welcomed her latest statement.

“She is right that unionists do not agree to the protocol and we need the government to live up to its commitment to protect the union and protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market,” he tweeted.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie also welcomed Ms Truss’ recent comments as “a way forward in dealing with trade issues with the EU”.

UUP leader Doug Beattie said Liz Truss' comments offered a UUP leader Doug Beattie said Liz Truss' comments offered a

UUP leader Doug Beattie said Liz Truss’ comments offered a “way forward in dealing with trade issues” (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

“It is entirely reasonable that goods from Great Britain destined to remain in Northern Ireland are not subject to checks and goods destined for the EU market can be checked at our ports.” We already have laws in 2019 recommended to make this feasible,” he said.

“It would make a major contribution to easing a difficult situation and should form the basis for constructive discussions with Maros Sefcovic in the coming week.

“Multiple discussions with companies and business representatives believe this is a pragmatic and sensible solution.” Common sense is needed to defuse this problem.”

However, he was critical of Sir Jeffrey’s threats to withdraw his ministers from the executive.

“Further engagement and negotiations are the way forward. We don’t need threats to destroy Stormont’s institutions in the middle of a pandemic, but instead we need sensible, clear thinking,” he said.

“Constructive engagement will always work better than megaphone diplomacy.”

TÜV boss Jim Allister reacted more cautiously and said that strong words must be followed by actions.

“If Liz Truss means what she said in the Sunday Telegraph – namely ‘I won’t sign anything… that still leaves the movement of goods within our own country subject to controls’ – then she needs to pull us out of the EU’s single market in goods.” , Customs Code and VAT system and end our subjugation to EU laws and courts,” he said.

“This is needed to end all controls on trade between the UK.

“My biggest problem with the Secretary of State’s words is that they contradict what her government has been arguing for months in response to the judicial review action in which I and others are involved.

“Through its lead counsel, HMG has defended the very agreements it now verbally rejects, while speaking blithely and approvingly of the protocol subjecting the Acts of Union.

“So if the HMG now accepts the folly of the protocol in all its parts, then proceed with its destruction.”

“Strong words are fine, but they must be followed by actions. Empty rhetoric and empty threats from some trade unionists only buy more time for the union dissolution protocol to be further entrenched.”

Watch: Northern Ireland Protocol: ‘Substantial gaps’ remain between EU and UK