PM must trigger Article 16 to 'protect Northern Ireland,' DUP MP claims

30 January 2021, 13:18 | Updated: 31 January 2021, 09:42

By Seán Hickey

The DUP leader in Westminster argued that the EU's aggression should motivate Boris Johnson to permanently invoke Article 16.

As the EU tries to mend the cracks following the brash decision to trigger Article 16 on Friday, Matt Frei spoke to a Unionist politician who believes the move should have stuck.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was accused by Matt of "trying to make political capital out of something which the European Commission has quietly admitted was a big mistake," but the DUP MP claimed he has been making such demands since the Northern Ireland protocol was imposed.

"The bandwagon I'm on has left the station months ago," he said, telling Matt that the impact felt in NI as a result of the protocol has been intense.

"You shouldn't underestimate the difficulty this is causing, the harm it's doing to Northern Ireland economy, the potential instability it could cause."

Matt wondered what Sir Jeffrey was looking for Boris Johnson to do in response to the EU's U-turn.

Read More: 'We have not made a mistake': Ex-MEP stands defiant on Article 16 fiasco

The leader of the DUP in Westminster called on the PM to impose a hard border in Ireland to protect the UK
The leader of the DUP in Westminster called on the PM to impose a hard border in Ireland to protect the UK. Picture: PA

He called on the Prime Minister "to invoke Article 16 and to take the unilateral action the UK needs to do to protect the UK internal market."

Sir Jeffrey insisted that the move would "protect Northern Ireland's trade with its biggest trading partner," although would trigger major issues on the island itself.

He added "there is a major societal and economic impact on Northern Ireland," as a result of the current situation, citing supply chains breaking down as one such issue.

While Matt accused the DUP Westminster leader of "adding fuel to the flames," Sir Jeffrey felt this was a misrepresentation.

"The EU has the right to invoke Article 16 but they made a major misjudgement in terms of how they went about it."

The call to the PM to trigger Article 16 is "an entirely legitimate request" according to the DUP leader.