Ursula von der Leyen News – Brexit: DUP petition calling for triggering of Article 16 of NI Protocol hits 100,000 signatures
The DUP’s petition calling for the UK government to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol has hit 100,000 signatures.
It means the online petition, entitled “Trigger Article 16 – We want unfettered GB-NI Trade”, will now be considered for a parliamentary debate.
The DUP has vowed to scrap the NI Protocol, which keeps the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic open but imposes controls on trade from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Article 16 of the post-Brexit arrangement allows either the UK or European Union to unilaterally suspend aspects of its operation if there are significant and persistent difficulties.
The DUP launched the petition on Thursday as part of a five-point plan to undermine the NI Protocol following disruption to some supplies from Great Britain since it came into effect this year.
The party has rejected accusations from political opponents of “whipping up hysteria”, insisting unionist frustrations at the Irish Sea trade border should be channelled through constitutional means.
DUP leader Arlene Foster expressed her delight at the petition hitting the 100,000 signatures milestone.
She said: “We have made the case to the Prime Minister and now the people have made a very public appeal to the government of their country to act.
“This is not the time for more words and drawn-out processes.
“This is time for affirmative action to ensure that there is an unfettered flow of goods within the UK single market.”
The First Minister encouraged people to “keep promoting and signing” the petition as it would “magnify our voice in the parliamentary debate”.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has said it is exploring all “flexibilities” available within Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade deal.
President Ursula von der Leyen said she recognised particular concern around the health certification of imported food products.
Ms von der Leyen told Stormont assembly speaker Alex Maskey: “I can assure you that the Commission has been exploring all flexibilities available under the applicable rules of Union law and within the framework of the Protocol, in order to facilitate the implementation of the Protocol, whilst fully protecting the integrity of the Union’s single market and customs union.”
Sinn Fein’s Caoimhe Archibald welcomed Ms von der Leyen’s commitment.
She said: “This shows that the EU is willing to work on practical solutions to the remaining problems which have resulted from Brexit and our exit from the EU.”
Ursula von der Leyen News - Brexit: DUP petition calling for triggering of Article 16 of NI Protocol hits 100,000 signatures