Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, Edwin Poots, has launched an unprecedented attack on the European Union (EU), accusing the bloc of “damaging the peace process” in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (May 30), Poots made the extraordinary claim that the current EU commissioners do not “seem to care” about the peace process.
Poots claimed that anger over the Northern Ireland Protocol (which is an integral part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement) could provoke violence in Northern Ireland this summer.
"This is the European Union seeking to punish the UK and, as a consequence, Northern Ireland is being used as a plaything”, Poots told the BBC’s Marr.
Poots, who succeeded Arlene Foster as DUP leader only two days ago, urged the British government to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which allows either party to suspend any part of the agreement that gives rise to “economic, societal or environmental difficulties”
However, the European Commission Vice-President, Maros Sefcovic, has rejected Poot’s allegations, implicitly suggesting that the DUP leader is indulging in scaremongering.
Speaking on the same BBC program, Sefcovic expressed full support for the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended the core conflict in Northern Ireland.
Sefcovic also claimed the Northern Ireland Protocol has brought “economic opportunity” to the British-controlled territory.