The leader of Northern Ireland’s biggest unionist party, First Minister Arlene Foster, has joined judicial review proceedings against the Northern Ireland Protocol as a named party, alongside top DUP MPs like Sammy Wilson, Nigel Dodds, and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
The legal challenge questions whether the protocol is compatible with existing UK law including the Belfast Agreement, the Northern Ireland Act of 1998, and – shockingly – the 1800 Act of Union that created the United Kingdom in the first place.
Foster has highlighted the importance of unfettered trade under the Act of Union, and has complained that the protocol “has driven a coach and horse through both the Act of Union and the Belfast Agreement.”
Her party has already won a big political victory against the Protocol, securing a parliamentary debate tomorrow on the back of a huge national petition that calls on the government to take swift action and protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market.
The petition was spurred by mounting trade friction which exploded into justified political resentment when the European Union invoked Article 16 of the protocol, in a desperate attempt to shore up European vaccine supplies and stop exports into Great Britain.
Brussels bureaucrats were forced to withdraw the measure following pressure from both the British and Irish governments, but unionists in Northern Ireland contend that the mask had already slipped.
The DUP have since been campaigning for the UK government itself to invoke Article 16 of the NI Protocol in a bid to secure internal trade within the UK, claiming that the EU’s protestations about harmony on the island of Ireland have now been exposed as a charade.
“The European Union and the Government must recognise that to press on with the Protocol with every single unionist party opposed to it will lead to failure” said Arlene Foster.
“Every agreement involving Northern Ireland has always required the consent of all sides. Consensus has been our watchword.”