I am delighted to have been asked to serve as Parliamentary Chairman of The Centre for the Union in the House of Commons, it is a real privilege to do this and complements my role as Chairman of the Northern Ireland APPG.
Our Union is under attack from the usual band of anti-British groups. In Northern Ireland, the Protocol damages the very basis of the union by drawing an internal border in our country that undermines economic and political rights. Republicans see this as an opportunity to undermine the union. We will continue to oppose them!
The Protocol has set back relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; between the UK and Ireland and between the people of Northern Ireland. Europe is happy to exploit those divisions because it is in consternation that anti-British sentiment flourishes. Anyone who does not believe the protocol causes these problems just has to look at the collapse of the Northern Ireland political institutions that can’t and won’t function until the protocol problem is removed.
The Northern Ireland Protocol and powersharing are not compatible, it would be wrong for Westminster and the government to assume that powersharing can continue when this destructive mechanism is in place.
The Protocol has undermined devolved government by failing to have the support of one single unionist MP or MLA. It must be replaced by arrangements that unionists can support.
The European Union have weaponised Northern Ireland and attempted to create a wedge between Great Britain and our province to punish the United Kingdom for Brexit, this is simply unacceptable.
The talks between the EU and the Uk are not negotiations. The EU will not negotiate because they have steadfastly refused to change the protocol. To open negotiations would be a recognition on their part that the protocol has failed and must change.
If the UK government want to see powersharing resumed then it is simple, remove the Protocol and restore Northern Ireland’s rightful place in the internal market of the United Kingdom. Unless the Protocol is removed, Northern Ireland is subject to EU regulation, VAT laws as well as countless other restrictions to which the rest of the UK would not find accountable and not only that, we are denied a say in any of it.
I very much look forward to the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill passing the House of Lords unamended and would hope that the upper chamber will see the absolute necessity for this Bill to pass to preserve our nation’s status. For every day they delay them it is the Lords who are responsible for delaying the formation of a Northern Ireland executive.
I want Northern Ireland to enjoy every benefit it's entitled to. The union is ours as of right and will not be removed from us by any cabal from Europe and the EU joined by disloyal subjects in the Lords.
Those who care for the Union must unite in support for the people of Northern Ireland and ensure that we build on the strengths of our union. Our economic and social and political strengths far outweigh any other option available to the union. The collective might of the people of the union together must be galvanised to deliver the advantages we all deserve as citizens of the greatest nation on earth.
This Centre will bring together like-minded people from across the Kingdom who can champion this great unionist cause and encourage a rebirth of our belief that together we are better.