UUP are weak on the Union- How much fundamental constitutional change will they tolerate?
By Jamie Bryson
At the UUP’s election manifesto launch party leader Doug Beattie extraordinarily claimed there would be “no fundamental constitutional change to NI’s place in the Union” in his lifetime, or that of his children.
This claim exposes a worrying failure on the part of the UUP to grasp the constitutional change which is presently- right here and now- being imposed upon us by the Union-subjugating Protocol.
But they do not need to take my word for it, Lord Trimble said that the Union-subjugating Protocol caused fundamental constitutional change in a sworn affidavit in the High Court challenge to the Union-subjugating Protocol.
Two issues arise.
The first issue is that the Union-subjugating Protocol “subjugates” (the words of Lord Justice McCloskey) the Act of Union.
Let us turn again to Lord Trimble who said this in 1998 when trying to sell the Belfast Agreement to the unionist community:
“Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom has been secured. The Act of Union, the fundamental piece of legislation defining Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom remains firmly in place. The Act of Union is the Union.”
Therefore, it is patently obvious- using the former UUP leader Lord Trimble’s own words- that there has been fundamental constitutional change.
The Act of Union-which is the Union- has been “subjugated”. How is that anything other than fundamental constitutional change?
And moreover, how much constitutional change would the UUP accept before joining the rest of unionism in saying enough is enough?
So the logical outcome on this first issue is very simple: either the UUP (i) disavow and reject the analysis of Lord Trimble and the Court of Appeal as to the constitutional implications of the Union-subjugating Protocol or (ii) they accept such an analysis, but are nevertheless trying to deceitfully conceal the constitutional impact of the Union-subjugating Protocol from the electorate because the UUP have been so weak on the issue, it is an electoral liability for the party.
It can only be one or the other.
The second issue, as is illuminated by Lord Trimble’s affidavit, is that the principle of consent- which was the sole basis for pro Agreement unionism- has been shown to be a deception and a fraud.
Notwithstanding therefore that the sole basis for pro Agreement unionism is now demonstrably unsustainable, the UUP have simply adopted the approach of pretending the fraud has never been discovered and are plodding on with their Stockholme-syndrome approach to the Belfast Agreement.
Put simply, there is no humiliation or weakening of the Union the UUP would not endure- or indeed facilitate-, so long as they can keep their Belfast Agreement, which even those who negotiated it have rightly disavowed.
In regards the Union, the UUP are content to facilitate the changing of everything, in order to prolong the changing of the last thing. An absurd Crocodile feeding strategy, straight out of the Mike Nesbitt ‘Vote UUP get SDLP’ playbook.
The DUP, TUV, PUP, Loyal Orders and grassroots unionism/loyalism have all disavowed the Belfast Agreement. All have been clear the principle of consent was a fraud, and in addition all have made clear that no self-respecting unionist should operate the institutions of power-sharing until the Protocol is removed in its entirety, which can only mean the full restoration of Article VI of the Acts of Union.
Sadly, the UUP have abandoned the Unionist family and went skipping across the Unionist picket-line. A sad and shameful spectacle.
The torching of all traditional Unionist principles is most evident by the inclusion of Ian Marshall sitting behind the party leader. A man who wants the Irish Parliament to sit in Belfast and claims the Protocol is here to stay.
At no stage have the UUP made clear they distance themselves from such, to be blunt, idiotic comments. In equal fashion, they have not disavowed Dr John Kyle’s ‘best of both worlds’ position, which is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the Acts of Union.
If the UUP spent more time trying to hold firm on the Union, rather than obsessively seeking the validation of those hostile to the Union (and make no mistake, no amount of pandering will ever be enough), then they would perhaps be a party which those who value the Union could place trust in.