The man elected to succeed Arlene Foster as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has launched a blistering attack on the Northern Ireland Protocol, promising to “inflict damage” on it.
In an interview with BBC News Northern Ireland, Edwin Poots put up a spirited defense of devolved government in NI, but only as a means of waging war on the protocol.
Poots described Stormont (site of the Northern Ireland Assembly) as an “asset” for “making the arguments” against the protocol.
"It [Stormont] gives us authority to make arguments. It takes us right to the centre of government in the United Kingdom and I have made these arguments", Poots told BBC News NI.
Poots was at pains to argue that his party will exhaust all legal routes at the Northern Ireland Assembly to undermine the protocol.
"We will take every reasonable exercise that we can to ensure that we can inflict damage to the protocol", Poots added.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is an integral part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (effective as of February 01, 2020) whose central aim is to maintain an open land border between British-controlled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with a view to safeguarding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The Good Friday Agreement formally ended the war between the Irish Republican movement and the British state.
However, in practice the protocol has placed a de facto border in the Irish Sea, thus potentially loosening Northern Ireland’s ties to the UK.
For that reason alone unionists and loyalists are bitterly opposed to the protocol and as set out by Poots they are committed to its destruction.