Democratic Ulster Unionist's Brexit blackmail threatens North of Ireland agreement
DUP leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said his ministers will resign if changes to the Brexit deal on trade across the Irish sea are not delivered within weeks.
DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said his ministers will resign if changes to the Brexit deal on trade across the Irish sea are not delivered within weeks. That would trigger the collapse of the power-sharing Executive in Belfast and likely hasten an Assembly election.
Donaldson also announced his party’s immediate withdrawal from cross-border political institutions established on the island of Ireland, in violation of the Ministerial code under the Good Friday peace agreement.
“If the choice is ultimately between remaining in office or implementing the protocol in its present form, then the only option for any unionist minister would be to cease to hold such office,” Donaldson said in a speech in Belfast.
The protocol was agreed by London and Brussels as a way to avoid a remilitarisation of the British-imposed border through Ireland. It achieves that by offering a special status to traders in the north of Ireland, who remain in the EU Single Market while also accessing the British market, subject to new export controls.
There was unanimity across the political spectrum that the DUP leader’s move was an attempt to shore up his party’s support after it recently lost ground to both the Ulster Unionist Party and Traditional Unionist Voice.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the DUP was “in panic mode” and the move to threaten the institutions was “a reckless, irresponsible and short-sighted election stunt”.
“They are threatening the stability of the political institutions when we are in the midst of the Covid pandemic, when the Tories are putting families and workers under pressure with more cuts, and when there is big work to do on the issues that matter to people’s everyday lives – on hospital waiting lists, on schools, on housing and on jobs, and on rebuilding our economy,” she said.
“They are focused on their own narrow self-interest ahead of the interests of workers, families and local businesses. Unionism has lost its political majority, the DUP is in disarray and their vote is in decline.”