The Protocol- Much ado about Nothing

It is amazing how some politicians have managed to elevate the new administrative guidelines required by the Brexit protocol into a major constitutional crisis.

 The threat that the Assembly cannot be restored until the protocol is abolished is a threat which cannot and will not be met as the protocol is fundamental to the withdrawal agreement. The alternative is the fall of the Assembly and a return to direct rule

The unionist population has been duped into believing the protocol is a threat to the union rather than an inevitable strengthening of customs regulations resulting from the UKs exit from the single market which the DUP supported.

The initial unionist response was to reluctantly accept the terms of the withdrawal agreement with some unionists particularly within the business community suggesting we should take advantage of our unique access to both the EU and UK markets.

Since the initial response unionist opinion has hardened and the unionist parties have unquestionably accepted Jim Allister’s claim that that the protocol is a threat to the union. It is clear that Allister is now the leader of unionism and leading the unionist population up a blind alley. This is a greater threat to the union than any protocol.

The protocol’s threat to the union is total nonsense. It may have caused some inconvenience in trade, delays and scarcities, as we adjust to the new market conditions but overall it has had little impact .Similar scarcities and delays have occurred in the rest of the UK as they adjust to the bureaucracy created by the new customs barriers resulting from leaving the single market . Many small businesses in GB have been unable to adjust their supply chains or meet the additional administration costs and have gone out of business. We did not suffer from business failure to the same extent.

Critics of the protocol claim it introduces checks of goods crossing the Irish Sea. These are not new as checks (particularly on agricultural goods) have existed for many years without threatening the union. The claim that some firms now refuse to send goods to Northern Ireland is also well-established practice when we often see adverts saying Not valid or Not Available in Northern Ireland.  Annoying but not grounds for a constitutional crisis.

Enough hot air has been expelled on the non-existent threat of the protocol. It was an inevitable result of adopting a hard Brexit. Time to move on forget the imaginary threat and deal with the technical inconveniences arising from the protocol.

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