EU overlords! Brexit row over hated deal erupts as MP warns of ‘political blackmail’

Brexit: Northern Ireland Protocol is 'damaging the union' says Hoey

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Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, made the comments in response to DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson again threatening to collapse Stormont if progress is not made on the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Northern Ireland Protocol prevented a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following Brexit but introduced new trade barriers in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The UK has given some concessions on its operation, such as easing the flow of medicines from Britain to Northern Ireland, but this has not satisfied the DUP, who said it is not enough to protect against disruption to trade with Britain and Northern Ireland’s place within the UK. Sir Jeffrey has repeatedly stated that he will collapse Stormont if the so-called Irish Sea border is not removed.

Last week, Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s chief negotiator argued “London has breached a great deal of trust” with the bloc over Northern Ireland.

Sir Jeffrey responded to this by stating that foreign secretary Liz Truss – who is in charge of Brexit negotiations following Lord Frost’s resignation in December – must provide a “clear date” for ending negotiations.

The Lagan Valley MP did not specify a deadline but stated that January is going to be a “crucial month”, suggesting that the DUP could seek to collapse Stormont by February if a deal is not met.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “We need a clear date now; we need a clear timeline in which there is an expectation of real progress or the Government takes the action that is necessary.

“It is crucial that Liz Truss moves this process forward quickly and that we get real and meaningful progress on a range of issues, not least of which is removing the checks on the movement of goods within the United Kingdom internal market.

“If we don’t get rapid and decisive progress in these negotiations and one side or the other is kicking the can down the road, this will have major implications for the stability of the political institutions in Northern Ireland.”

In response to Sir Jeffrey’s threats, Mr Hoare, who is the chair of the Northern Ireland Select Committee tweeted: “With Covid etc collapsing Stormont would be a dereliction of public duty and service.

“The communities of NI need all of their politicians with their shoulders to the wheel. The people of NI deserve better than being pawns in a game of political blackmail.”

Ulster Unionist party leader, Doug Beattie also criticised the threats, stating: “Negative Unionism versus Positive Unionism.

“Collapsing Stormont will not deal with the Protocol – engagement, innovation and pragmatic solutions will.

“We have a unique opportunity to strengthen our ties within the Union.

“Handing the keys to Westminster & Dublin won’t do that.”

However, Mr Hoare’s comments, sparked rage on Twitter, with Jonny tweeting: “The sheer nerve of @Simon4NDorset to say ‘the people of NI deserve better than being pawns in a game of political blackmail’ when this is precisely how his beloved EU overlords have used our country for the last four years!? @trussliz”

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Anglo Scot also tweeted: “Simon’s attitude towards NI is absolutely repulsive, I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

Sir Jeffrey first threatened to collapse Stormont by the end of October 2021 but moved this deadline after it appeared progress in negotiations was being made with then Brexit minister, Lord Frost.

The last time powersharing collapsed, in 2017, it was not restored until 2020.

Ms Truss has stated she is still prepared to invoke Article 16 if significant progress is not made.

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