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A DUP delegation led by Parliamentary Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP reiterated that the Northern Ireland Protocol must be replaced during a meeting with the UK Minister of State and Chief Brexit Negotiator Lord Frost CMG this afternoon. The Lagan Valley MP was accompanied by East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson and Lord Dodds.

Commenting afterwards, Sir Jeffrey said:

‘‘We welcomed the opportunity for a direct and forthright exchange of views with Lord Frost and to highlight the continuing harm wrought to businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland as a direct consequence of the Protocol.

Our message was clear and unambiguous – the Protocol must go and the Government should take further unilateral action to restore our Province’s full and unfettered access to the United Kingdom internal market.

Those in London, Dublin and Brussels who continue to talk up the need for these oppressive and undemocratic arrangements to preserve peace and the Belfast Agreement fail to recognise that the Protocol presents the single greatest threat to stability in Northern Ireland in a generation.

The Protocol has no support from any shade or quarter of unionism. Its imposition without the consent of both traditions in Northern Ireland and overriding of cross-community voting safeguards has seriously undermined support for devolution. We made it clear that the Government must act carefully but decisively to restore the delicate balance of community relations in the coming days.

No sovereign country should have barriers to trade and customs arrangements placed within it. Grace periods, whilst welcome, cannot give businesses the longer-term certainty they desperately crave. They cannot remedy the democratic deficit at the heart of the Protocol. The EU has proven entirely incapable of listening to, or acting on, legitimate concerns around the impact of the Protocol on supply chains and communities in Northern Ireland. This shows no sign of changing.

The Government has a duty to step up to the mark and urgently reinstate our historic East-West trading relationships. It must bring forward meaningful and sustainable proposals to replace the Protocol, alleviate disruption facing businesses and in so doing restore in full the rights and benefits enjoyed by Northern Ireland citizens within the United Kingdom.’’