Senior DUP politicians have refused to budge on their calls to scrap the NI Protocol, after Jacob Rees-Mogg told reporters they could vote it down in three years’ time.
Speaking to Sunday Life, the Leader of the House of Commons Mr Rees-Mogg insisted that “the unionists, if they unite on this, are able to get rid of the protocol.
“It has to command a majority in the Assembly in, is it 2024?
“And so this is very important, if the unionist parties are against the protocol then they will be able to get rid of it if they unite in elections and are able to have a fair majority, because it’s not a cross-community vote.”
Mr Rees-Mogg was referring to the end of the initial period of the protocol’s implementation in late 2024, when the Northern Ireland legislature will be able to review its effectiveness and vote on whether they consent to its continuation.
“If they turn against the protocol, they will be within their power to get rid of it in not too many years and that’s important, that’s very significant and an interesting point for the European Union to bear in mind,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.
“Because it’s got to realise if it wants the protocol to work, it’s got to ensure that the unionists remain onside with it.”
Senior figures of the Democratic Unionist Party however told reporters they did not share the Conservative MP’s view with regards to the timeframe and have called on the British government to scrap the protocol immediately.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson assured reporters his party “would not be kicking the issue down the road.
“We will fight guerrilla warfare against this, until the big battle opportunity comes,” Wilson announced.
“We will be challenging the government on a daily basis, telling them to do what they can now to undo the damage done to Northern Ireland.”
Northern Ireland’s DUP Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons sparked controversy on Friday by ordering officials to halt the construction of permanent inspection facilities for post-Brexit checks on agri-food goods arriving from Great Britain. It was a clear move of defiance against the protocol rules imposed on the province by the Brexit agreement.
And Mr Wilson pledged that his party’s ministers at Stormont “will continue to refuse to implement [the protocol].”
The leader of Mr Wilson’s party, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has joined judicial review proceedings against the Northern Ireland Protocol as a named party, alongside top DUP MPs Nigel Dodds and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
Their complaints have since been backed by former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, architect of the Belfast Agreement, Lord Trimble, Baroness Hoey and key members of the ERG.