“Day and daily the pain and damage inflicted by the Protocol is being felt in every corner of, and by every community in, Northern Ireland.
The Protocol is costing our economy £2.5 million each and every day. Money which I want to see invested in delivering a stronger economy and improving vital public services.
Important progress in removing the Irish Sea Border has been made through the endeavours of those who value economic and political stability.
The EU has been forced to abandon their age old mantra that the Protocol was not open for re-negotiation and returned to the talks table, whilst the demands for rigorous implementation from the protocol cheerleaders here in Northern Ireland have long since come to an end.
However, these talks cannot drag on interminably and must be brought to a head. The political, economic and societal difficulties caused by the Protocol cannot be sustained. The Government acknowledged this in their Command Paper last July but to date have failed to intervene to prevent this harm.
Next week I will be meeting with the Foreign Secretary and making clear that a definitive timeline for an outcome of the current negotiations must be set.
Northern Ireland’s place within the Internal Market of the United Kingdom must be restored swiftly in line with the key commitment made in New Decade New Approach Agreement, either through the current talks process or through uniliteral action by HM Government.
Only by dealing with the Protocol and ending the division can we truly focus on building a better and brighter Northern Ireland for all of our people.
The people of Northern Ireland will soon have the opportunity to affirm their support for moving forward, the opportunity to reject the divisive politics of a border poll and to support our vision for a Northern Ireland fit for its new century.”