Brexit news: DUP demands ‘freedom’ from NI protocol as trade deal to wipe £45bn from UK economy

Adam Forrest,Rory Sullivan and Vincent WoodFri, 12 February 2021, 6:45 pm

Michael Gove returns to Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Getty Images)
Michael Gove returns to Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (Getty Images)

The DUP has demanded to be “freed” from the Northern Ireland protocol, as it thinks post-Brexit trade disruption is severing its country from the rest of the UK.

Arlene Foster, Stormont’s first minister, tweeted on Friday that trade issues between Great Britain and Northern Ireland required solutions, not just “sticking plasters”.

“Northern Ireland needs [to be] freed from the protocol,” the DUP leader wrote. “We must have unfettered trade between GB & NI … EU must recognise the absence of unionist support.”

Her party has been calling for the agreement to be ditched for several weeks now, ever since the EU threatened to override parts of the agreement in a row over coronavirus vaccines last month.

On Friday, Ms Foster warned London, Dublin and Brussels that something needed to be done “quickly” about the issue, as people in the unionist community were “very angry” about it.

She also announced that a DUP petition to trigger article 16 of the protocol, which has so far gained almost 140,000 signatories, would be debated in the Commons on 22 February.

Liz Kendall, a Labour MP, told ITV’sPeston she had little time for the DUP’s position, suggesting the current trade issues are the “inevitable” consequences of the hard Brexit the party wanted.

Elsewhere, analysis from Brussels has predicted that the UK economy stands to lose £45 billion in two years because of Brexit.

By the bloc’s calculations, this will make the Brexit trade agreement four times more costly for the UK than the EU.