T3. Mr Allister asked the Minister for the Economy who said last week that “if there is a choice between remaining in office or implementing the protocol in its present form, then the only option for any unionist Minister would be to cease to hold such office.”, whether he is therefore concerned that his colleague the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs continues to implement the protocol. (AQT 1573/17-22)
I hope that the Member will look at my record — what I have done in my Department and elsewhere — and at the position that my party has taken and that he can see where we stand in relation to the protocol. I understand the impacts that it is having. I recognise the problems that it is causing for our businesses. I want to make sure that we do all that we can to find solutions to the problems that exist, because it is harming our economic prosperity and opportunity. I am very clear that the protocol needs to go, as does the border in the Irish Sea. We need to have arrangements in place that reflect the reality of where we are.
I have made it clear what the UK Government and the EU need to do. We need to recognise the problems that exist as a result of the protocol. We need to understand that it is causing additional paperwork. We need to recognise the barriers that exist and the fettering of trade that is taking place. That recognition needs to happen. To a large extent, that recognition has taken place. What we need to see now is action. The message from me and my party is very clear: we cannot have sustainable institutions when our politics is being poisoned by the protocol. That is why we need to see action on it. The Government have given us some very fine words in recent weeks and months, but we now need to see action on the protocol, not because it is affecting one party or one tradition in Northern Ireland but because it is affecting everybody in Northern Ireland, whether you are a unionist or a nationalist. I see Mrs Kelly shaking her head. I can tell her that there are a lot of businesses in her constituency that are affected —
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yet again, we have the failure to even recognise that there is a problem. There is a failure to understand the impact that the protocol is having on business, the paperwork that people are having to fill out and the fact that people are not delivering to Northern Ireland any more. When I went into my constituency office at the weekend, I got this from a constituent. It reads:
"I am very sorry as we are unable to send orders to Northern Ireland due to current Customs restrictions. Your order has been cancelled and refunded. With our apologies for any Inconvenience [sic] caused."
That is the inconvenience that is being caused by the rigorous implementation of the protocol.