Ulster Unionist MLA, Doug Beattie MC said:
“The coup within the DUP which forced Arlene Foster to announce her resignation was long telegraphed. The only question was when and indeed who. The fact many of those who chose to confront Arlene with a letter instead of looking her in the eye and expressing the same opinion shows a real lack of courage.
“However even with Arlene having been removed and a new leader in charge nothing will have changed. The Northern Ireland Protocol will still be with us, and although the DUP language is likely to change to be more hardline, the Protocol will remain, unless rational dialogue and alternative options are promoted.
“As far back as October 2019 the Ulster Unionist Party have been warning of the danger of an Irish Sea border. The party has shouted from the rafters that this would become a reality if the DUP did not change tack but the party was ignored. The DUP leadership, with the full knowledge of its MPs and MLAs blinded by the champagne unionism afforded them at Westminster, set the conditions for the protocol. They offered no solutions.
“In a two week period, from 2 October to to 17 October 2019, the Ulster Unionist Party put out 35 statements warning of the proposed Irish Sea Border. This proposal, which the DUP had said at the time was a ‘serious and sensible way forward’, created the Northern Ireland Protocol later that same year.
“The Ulster Unionist Party continued to offer alternatives throughout the time, between 2019 to the implementation of the protocol on 1st January 2021. This focused around the small amount of trade that goes from Great Britain to ROI via Northern Ireland with a proposal, led by Lord Empey, that would ensure no borders North South or East West.
“The DUP did not get behind the proposals and with no MPs in Westminster opposed to 8 DUP MPs the proposal was not examined and the lone voice of Lord Empey was drowned out.
“The Ulster Unionist proposal remains, it is a credible alternative to the Protocol, and it safeguards the fine balance of Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
“Make no mistake, whoever takes over as Leader; the protocol has the DUP DNA all over it. Collapsing Stormont as a show of defiance will simply give the reins of power to Boris Johnson who has already shown his disdain for Northern Ireland Unionists and in turn it will give the Dublin Government a bigger say in what goes on in Northern Ireland.
“This possible outcome rests with the new DUP leader or alternatively they can actively support Ulster Unionist proposals as a serious alternative to the Northern Ireland Protocol.”
You can view the Ulster Unionist Party proposal titled 'EU Withdrawal Agreement Backstop – alternative ways ahead?' from February 2019 here.