The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party will make a decision on whether an Assembly speaker will be nominated on Friday.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme, Sir Jeffrey said it depended on what action the UK Government takes this week around the protocol. “We will need to make a decision on that,” he said.
His MLAs would be at Stormont on Friday and a decision would be made, Sir Jeffrey added.
If an Assembly speaker is not nominated, it would paralyse many of the workings of Stormont.
Meanwhile, Sir Jeffrey said it is “clear” the government is preparing to act on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
It’s after the UK government has rejected EU plans to reduce the scale of checks in the Northern Ireland protocol.
The Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has since said she will not shy away from scrapping parts of the protocol.
It’s a tactic that the former Prime Minister Theresa May has warned against, saying the UK would become less trusted over treaties in the future.
Sir Jeffrey and the DUP have refused to form a Stormont Executive unless changes are made to the protocol.
He said: “Our fear is if we reach the end of the grace period… later this year then the full impact of the protocol will be felt and it will be massive.”
Asked if the government was risking a trade war by acting unilaterally, Sir Jeffrey said the UK government had every right to act unilaterally where the arrangements are causing “harm”.
"We’ll wait to see what happens, but I think the pressure we’ve applied is beginning to apply is having an impact.
"I think the government recognises that, and in the Queen’s speech yesterday it was made clear that it is a priority to protect the political institutions in Northern Ireland and it’s also a priority for them to protect the economic bonds that bind the United Kingdom together.”
He said the protocol was “incompatible” with those priorities, and said the Irish government was dismissing unionist concerns.
He pointed that out when the DUP was the largest party, he was repeatedly told there also needed to be consensus on the issue.
Still holding his Westminster seat after being elected as an MLA, he said he would return to Stormont but there remained “unfinished business”. In the interim, another DUP politician will take his place at Stormont – but it wouldn’t be a former DUP MLA who lost their seat.
"If the government are going to act, I believe that as the unionist leader I need to be here to see that through because it’s fundamentally important.”
On vacating his Westminster seat, he said that no decision had yet been taken on who would contest his seat.