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The Protocol breaches the Belfast Agreement | David Campbell

One of the big problems facing unionism is that despite the Ulster Unionist Party being the prime architect of the Belfast Agreement, its current leadership appears to have no interest in defending the integrity of that very Agreement.

In interviews over the past few days, Doug Beattie and Mike Nesbitt appeared to equivocate on the threat to the Union caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol and did not reference at all the breaches to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

The UUP leadership needs to stand firm at this critical time of negotiation, and not be the weak link that undermines the totality of unionist opposition to the Protocol.

It would therefore be helpful if the Party would clarify its position by answering the following key questions:

  1. Does the UUP consider that the NI protocol breaches the Act of Union, and undermines the principle of consent enshrined within the Belfast Agreement; breaches which the late Lord Trimble described as a fundamental 'betrayal' ?

  2. The High Court determined (Rooney and JR 181 (3)) that membership of a NI Executive carried with it a requirement to implement the NI protocol. Does the UUP still consider that it should participate in a NI Executive whilst the protocol still exists ?

  3. Does the UUP still oppose the continued supremacy of EU law in Northern Ireland ?

As we await reports of progress in negotiations with Europe, any proposed deal must be judged on whether it restores the national sovereignty of the United Kingdom in all of its constituent nations, and repairs the breaches inflicted on the Belfast Agreement.

Tinkering with trade practicalities in the hope that the constitutional issues can be swept aside would be dangerous wishful thinking.

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