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Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has written to Secretary of State Rt Hon Brandon Lewis, calling for Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to be invoked as chaos continues to hit our haulage industry, and supermarkets withdraw products from local stores.

The DUP MP said:

“The impact of the Protocol is being seen day and daily.

When DUP MPs voted against the Protocol in Westminster, we did so because we predicted it would have widespread damaging consequences for households and businesses in Northern Ireland. Other parties acted as cheerleaders for it, preferring to fuel talk of a return to violence if anything other than the Protocol was implemented. Such shameful scaremongering was used to foist this disaster on the good, law abiding people of Northern Ireland.

I have spent this week working with local haulage companies to alleviate the difficulties their drivers are facing bringing goods to Northern Ireland to meet the every day needs of households. We have dozens of trailers sitting at docks across Great Britain that cannot move across the Irish Sea because of the provisions of the Protocol. Haulage companies are having to leave loads in distribution centres across the mainland and return home with empty trailers daily – costing hauliers around £1000 every time. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are being lost. It is scandalous and it is unsustainable for our local haulage industry.

Of course, the knock-on consequences are seen in our supermarkets, with more and more empty shelves and products being rationed or deemed unavailable. Marks and Spencer have over 300 products reportedly withdrawn from sale in Northern Ireland, and they are not alone in this.

The question that the Government needs to answer is if they will continue to allow this to happen? It wouldn’t be allowed to happen in the Prime Minister’s constituency, or in the Secretary of State’s constituency, so why should it happen in mine? Why should the people of Northern Ireland suffer?

The answer of course is to invoke Article 16 of the Protocol. We are in the realm of “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade”. That is without dispute. Therefore, in line with the provisions of the Protocol the “UK may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures”. We need these safeguard measures to be enabled now and the unfettered access across the Irish Sea restored to alleviate these serious difficulties.

It amazes me that faced with these issues, other parties continue to promote the Protocol. We need them to rethink and admit they were wrong to promote fear of violence over the everyday need for fresh food and frictionless freight. If they do not, then the impact on households across Northern Ireland are because of they chose the will of the EU over the wellbeing of their constituents. What will they chose?”