The UK Government must show “actions not words” and remove the Irish Sea border, the DUP leader has said.
He also warned that political institutions in Northern Ireland can only retain support if “swift and decision action” is taken by Boris Johnson and his Cabinet on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “Six months ago, the Government recognised that the political, economic and societal damage being caused to Northern Ireland and its people by the Protocol had resulted in the conditions for triggering Article 16 being met.”
Accusing the European Union of failing to recognise the place of Northern Ireland in the UK, he said: “No amount of window dressing, tinkering around the edges or extensions to so called grace periods will provide an acceptable way forward.”
The DUP leader said that he had met with Lord Frost, the chief Brexit negotiator for the Government, about the latest on the ongoing discussions between the UK and the EU.
“The Irish Sea Border must be removed and Northern Ireland’s place within the Internal Market of the United Kingdom fully restored, so that the political institutions can continue to operate,” Sir Jeffrey said.
“The Government must now act immediately to signal its intent to honour the commitments made both in New Decade, New Approach and in their Command Paper.
In the New Decade, New Approach agreement that restored power-sharing in Northern Ireland, the UK Government promised to legislate to “guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market”.
“The political institutions here in Northern Ireland can only continue to command the necessary support required, if swift and decisive action is taken,” he warned.
Last week, Lord Frost said that “significant” gaps still remain following his latest talks with the European Commission on the impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He has warned the EU and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic that the UK remains ready to trigger Article 16 – suspending some of the arrangements in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – if a settlement cannot be found.
Unionists and loyalists strongly oppose the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has created additional checks on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain as the region effectively remains within the single market to avoid a hard border on the island.