A ‘deal’ must achieve three things: (i) the restoration of Article VI of the Acts of Union; (ii) a complete end of the application of EU and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland; and (iii) goods moving GB-NI must not be subject to any additional requirements that those moving internally within GB.
Those key sovereignty requirements can not be satisfied with a red lane and a green lane, which is in truth more like an amber lane given you would be required to opt-in to a trusted trader scheme and still fill out customs paperwork. This would impose additional requirements GB-NI which does not apply GB-GB, and as such would not remedy the breach of Article VI of the Acts of Union.
A red lane-green lane would only be prima facie feasible if the default position was that all goods move freely unless they opt-in to the red lane and self-declare as moving into the EU. This could, in the spirit of neighbourliness, be underpinned by criminal penalties for anyone who exports to the EU without complying with the requirements to self-declare.
More fundamentally, the continued application of EU law in Northern Ireland is the root of the constitutional vandalism which is taking place, and it is that which must be brought to an end. Northern Ireland must be subject solely to UK law.
This would require a fundamental rewriting of the Protocol (particularly Article 5 thereof), and the EU negotiators have no mandate to do so.
It is obvious therefore to point out that the ongoing talks can not possibly provide an acceptable solution, because the parameters are about finding a solution within the framework of the Protocol. This fails to appreciate it is that framework which is the source of the constitutional corrosion.
A deal which does not (as any deal, inevitably, will not) deal with the constitutional issues will be insufficient to restore power sharing. The DUP/TUV have stood on a clear manifesto commitment, and received a mandate for the stand they have taken.
If the DUP were to consider ‘compromising’, then they have no mandate to do so and would have to go back to the electorate and explain why they are abandoning their seven key tests and clear commitments on an end to EU law and the ECJ.
I do not get any sense that the DUP will betray their base in that way, or that they even desire to do so. All self-respecting unionists appreciate that this issue is fundamental. This goes to the core of the Union itself.
The imposition of the Protocol, to use football parlance, was a 3-0 defeat for unionism - achieved by the threat of republican violence.
In order to right that wrong a score draw in the new deal would be insufficient. That would merely make the score 4-1.
Instead, any deal must comprehensively and unashamedly remove from the EU (and by extension the Irish Government) their ill-gotten sovereignty over Northern Ireland, and restore us to our rightful place as an integral part of the United Kingdom.
Put simply; only a 3-0 win for unionism can equal the score and restore equilibrium. That is why talk of compromise is misplaced, unionism has nothing left to give. There is no compromise to be made.
Of course, the pressure on unionism will increase with the world at large attacking our community as the siege develops. Indeed, even some of our own, such as the UUP, have and will continue to join in on the attack. That is to their immortal shame.
But all those who value the Union must stand firm. There is not an inch to give. We have had 25 years of a process whereby unionism must give, and nationalism must get. Enough was enough long ago.
We will not have a deal imposed upon us, and we will not compromise on our place within the Union.
It is notable how the purported objective was initially that the Protocol existed to protect the Belfast Agreement, but now that contrived fiction has been exposed, the new narrative is the Belfast Agreement must be changed to protect the Protocol.
This exposes what it was always about: ‘protecting the Belfast Agreement’ was a euphemism for protecting nationalist interests. That is why now the core objective is not in fact protecting the Belfast Agreement. Instead that apparently once sacred text has been sacrificed on the altar of the Protocol, which is the new sacred cow, which must be defended at all costs because of what it does. And what does it do? It subjugates Northern Ireland within an economic United Ireland, with unionists treated as second-class citizens.
If they think we will ever reconcile ourselves to that, they have another thing coming.
Stand firm Sir Jeffrey, stand firm Jim, stand firm DUP and TUV. The Loyal orders, the marching bands, the grassroots unionist and loyalist community and every self-respecting unionist stands shoulder to shoulder with you.
We will never give in. Thirty years of the IRA terrorist campaign couldn’t break the back of our community; unionism is hardly likely to surrender now.