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DUP Leader Edwin Poots has launched a dual agenda on the NI Protocol and promoting the Union. Highlighting the process he has commenced to dismantle its structure he called for a united voice in opposition to it.

He also made clear his desire to work with others locally and across the U.K. to ensure the positive message of the Union is heard. That includes supporting the establishment of a Unionist Convention to focus on key objectives.

On the NI Protocol Mr Poots said, “The Northern Ireland Protocol is bad for business in Northern Ireland and it is bad for every one of our citizens. Those who argued the Protocol was a “win win” are as silent on that as they are about their demands for “rigorous implementation”.

All of us who want to make Northern Ireland work must speak with one voice against the absurd barriers placed on trade with our biggest market. As I meet with Maros Sefcovic next week it will be respectful but forceful just as was the case with Micheal Martin.

Animals with full traceability pose no threat to the Single Market yet centuries of trade is being strangled in its name. It is equally absurd that it took my intervention to prevent checks on pets and guide dogs for diseases that have not been found in the British Isles since 1922.

The delivery of the Protocol as proposed when the grace periods end with 15,000 checks per week, will be impossible. We do not have the infrastructure or staff to do it. More importantly there is no appetite to cooperate on this grotesque imposition to facilitate EU punishment of the UK, by hurting Northern Ireland.

Higher food prices, less choice, deprivation of medicines and medical products are economically and socially damaging. Barriers inside the United Kingdom and the democratic deficit from regulations passed with no input from any Northern Ireland representatives is constitutionally damaging. I will not be building any permanent infrastructure, rather I am commencing the process to remove what has already been imposed using the courts and politics to make the case. Every unionist is not just opposed to the economic burdens but reject the implications for our sovereignty as part of the U.K."

Turning to unionist cooperation and promotion of the Union he said

“There are alternatives to this unworkable Protocol and I want to see a united voice alongside the DUP in promoting them. I will continue to meet unionist colleagues across all parties to discuss how we can cooperate on these matters of fundamental importance. I also want to see the establishment of a Unionist Convention to focus on key objectives everyone in the pro-Union community can support.

The Union is of critical importance to all our wellbeing. Those campaigning to end the Union would leave our citizens poorer and damage our key public services. I want to see a unity of purpose around our key priorities and as leader of the largest unionist party I will play my part in developing a united brand of unionism. Across the United Kingdom, the importance of our Union is increasingly coming to the fore. We must work together locally and across our nation to ensure the positive message of the Union is heard. Fundamental to that success however must be the removal of trade barriers inside the U.K.”