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Alex Kane

New DUP leader Edwin Poots faces the same problems as Foster but needs a different approach

Alex Kane

Lagan Valley MLA could start by explaining why unionists feel threatened by the protocol

Edwin Poots faces exactly the same problem as Arlene Foster faced. She may have been thrown to the wolves by the party because of her perceived ambivalence on the Northern Ireland Protocol (back in January she seemed to be suggesting a make-the-best-of-it approach), but there is no hard evidence Poots has a cast-iron strategy for removing it. Which means the issue will continue to dog the DUP for months, and in dogging the DUP will also dog broader unionism, loyalism, the Orange Order and the relationship between unionism and nationalism in the Assembly.

Amid all the talk of upping the ante and finding new ways of dumping the protocol (at the moment, a Judicial Review, pop-up protests, threats to grind the north-south institutions to a standstill, and creating the circumstances for an early election or crashing the Assembly are all in play), it strikes me that something of great significance has been overlooked: the real reason why unionism is angered by the protocol.

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