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DUP ‘holding out’ Stormont boycott until NI Protocol Bill advances through Westminster, claims Ian Paisley


A unionist sign protesting against the NI Protocol at Larne Port

A unionist sign protesting against the NI Protocol at Larne Port

A unionist sign protesting against the NI Protocol at Larne Port

The DUP is “holding out” until the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill advances further through Westminster until they will return to Stormont, according to Ian Paisley.

The MP was responding to reports emerging from government sources that Downing Street is concerned the Bill could be defeated if the unionist party will not agree to engage in the Assembly institutions.

According to the News Letter, a senior source in the UK Government said Westminster is seeking “written assurances” from the DUP they will nominate a Speaker at Stormont, with fears some backbenchers may vote against the Bill if the DUP continues their protest over the protocol.

The newspaper report the source also claims patience within the government is “running thin” expecting the DUP to “reciprocate” following the publication of the Bill on Monday.

Other reports in the media on Thursday morning suggest the government will delay the next stage of their Northern Ireland Protocol Bill until the DUP agrees to return to Stormont.

Responding to BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster, the DUP’s North Antrim MP said he has spoken to senior members of the government and said the party will show “good faith” if the Bill goes through the houses “expeditiously”.

“I spoke yesterday to the Secretary of State. I spoke yesterday to other very senior members of the government,” Mr Paisley said.

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“I think it is fair to reflect their position is they want the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive as quickly as possible.

“We want local government established, but we can only do it whenever we resolve these issues around the protocol. We are holding out until we get those issues resolved.

“There will be a debate in parliament this month a second reading of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. If that goes through parliament expeditiously that would be very helpful.

“I think it would be then up to the House of Lords to make sure they get it back to the House of Commons thereafter. Under good faith we could show we are a willing partner.”

It comes as the EU launched fresh legal action against the UK in retaliation to Boris Johnson’s plan to unilaterally scrap parts of the protocol.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the British government had set out to "unilaterally break international law".

"Let there be no doubt: there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement,” he added.

"Opening the door to unilaterally changing an international agreement is a breach of international law as well. So let's call a spade a spade: this is illegal."

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