Shock for EU: Poll shows only 2% of unionist voters agree NI Protocol acceptable

77% of unionist voters want Protocol scrapped completely – sending clear message to Liz Truss

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022

New polling conducted for the Belfast Telegraph refutes the claims of the EU’s chief negotiator Maros Sefcovic that the Northern Ireland Protocol is broadly popular.

The Poll gives more weight to the claims of the UK Government that the Protocol is damaging the peace settlement achieved by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement by raising tension between communities.

Poll results are devastating for the EU

A poll of over 1290 voters found that among ALL unionist supporting voters only 2% thought “the NI Protocol is acceptable and the DUP should support the NI Protocol as it stands”.

This compared with 77% of all unionist voters who agreed that “The NI Protocol should be scrapped completely.” This majority was composed of 43% who thought “as there hasn’t been enough progress in scrapping the NI Protocol, the DUP should immediately withdraw from the Stormont institutions” – and another 34% who thought the NI Protocol should be scrapped completely but with the DUP using differing political tactics to try and bring about change.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Belfast Telegraph poll of unionist voters in Northern Ireland

  • "Protocol must be scrapped completely" : 77%
  • "Protocol is not perfect but can be made workable by re-negotiation" : 20%
  • "Protocol is acceptable as it stands" : 2%

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

For the full Belfast Telegraph poll results click here.

Altogether 63% of all unionist voters would support the DUP withdrawing from the Stormont institutions to put pressure on having the Protocol removed.

Only 20% of all unionist voters thought the NI Protocol, while not perfect, could be made workable.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP speaking about the Protocol yesterday

Yesterday DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP spoke in County Antrim, following the latest round of talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic on issues with the N.I. Protocol.

“The EU are now indicating that the talks will conclude mid-February, so I need to know from the Government [that] if we’re not going to get agreement with the EU, and it seems unlikely based on what we’re hearing, then what decisive action are the Government prepared to take?

“And I need to know that now – I’m not prepared to be strung out for weeks on end with nothing and no assurance that the Government is going to act.

“I need to know from the Government are they going to act or are they not going to act?

“If they’re not going to act, then be honest and tell us, and we will have to take the action that we need to take to bring this matter towards a solution.”

The DUP is being pushed to breaking point by the UK Government’s willingness to keep postponing the cut-off point from negotiations with the EU when it will invoke Article 16 to suspend the NI Protocol.

The DUP had previously threatened to withdraw from Stormont by 30 November of last year if progress in the renegotiation was not made – but ‘paused’ that action pending the outcome of the current talks. Now its leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, has said he will not be “strung-out” – this is because he is facing a decision on whether or not to withdraw from the Stormont assembly and accompanying institutions.

Stormont now heading towards a Sinn Fein First Minister

Since the Northern Ireland Assembly was formed under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, either David Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party or the DUP (led by Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson or Arlene Foster) has always managed to have the most members elected. As a result they gained the position of First Minister, with the Deputy First Minister always going to the best performing party of the nationalist tradition.

All parties are a minority party, but the largest takes the position of leading the Executive, which must be formed in partnership with the members from the other parties. If either the largest unionist or nationalist party withdraws from forming the Executive it automatically ‘collapses’ with Stormont itself suspended. Administration would then fall to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, and his fellow ministers.

Now the same Belfast Telegraph polling quoted above is showing Sinn Fein as the largest party, polling only 25% – but 8 points clear of the DUP on 17%, the best placed of the divided Unionist parties currently jostling for second place. If that is how the electorate decides to vote in May of this year there would be a Sinn Fein First Minister and a Unionist Deputy for the first time.

“The Protocol isn’t up for negotiation,” says Sinn Fein – although it clearly has been, and is

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, answered questions in the Assembly yesterday

“The implications of Brexit are being felt right across our community. The implications in terms of the Protocol – we wouldn’t have a Protocol if we didn’t have Brexit and the Protocol provides a solution.

“So I still maintain the position of rigorous implementation within the framework of the Protocol because, despite the utterances of the DUP, the Protocol isn’t up for negotiation.”

The debate about how to take on and scrap or reform the Protocol has divided the unionist vote so that no one party is any longer larger than Sinn Fein.

Indeed, both the DUP and Sinn Fein are polling at levels lower than they achieved in the last Stormont election of 2017, but the fall in support for DUP is much greater at eleven points. The True Unionist Voice has been the chief beneficiary – moving from just over 2% to over 12% now.


If the Belfast Agreement is built on anything it is on cross-community consensus and that, in respect of the protocol, is as absent as a statistical measure as it can be.

If the EU continues to push and the UK Government accedes to the continuation of the Protocol without using all available triggers to emphasise to the EU that the Protocol is unmanageable and a threat to the Belfast Agreement – and invoking Article 16 is as good a wake-up call as any – then how can unionist parties continue to engage in a process which is clearly corrupted and to which only lip service is paid to cross-community safeguards?

They seriously have to look at withdrawing in a process that is progressively ignoring the community views they present to the point of them being put on ‘mute’.

In other words, what is revealed is that for all the posturing of politicians such as Maros Sefcovic that they are seeking to protect the Belfast Agreement they are in fact only paying lip service to it. They say they are engaging in a spirit of co-operation between communities without actually paying heed to the unionist community – which is not how the process was designed to work.

Such an approach must severely undermine continuing faith in the Belfast Agreement and in the benefit of supporting democratic parties who are then ignored by EU, Irish and UK political leaders.

Liz Truss must be under no illusions. She has the support of the unionist community to invoke Article 16 to push the EU to see sense and agree to the removal of the Protocol. If she chooses not to take such action then she is as complicit in damaging the Belfast Agreement as the EU. She must not only listen to those who support remaining in the United Kingdom, she must represent them and defend the Belfast Agreement, otherwise all credibility in it will begin to evaporate.

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[Sources: Belfast Telegraph | DUP Online | Independent] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Tuesday, 25 January, 2022

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