BORIS Johnson has been warned Sinn Fein will sweep to power in Northern Ireland and break up the UK if he does not fix the row over Brexit border checks.
DUP heavyweight Ian Paisley Jr says further delay will only “embolden republicans in Northern Ireland and those who want to rip us out of the United Kingdom.”
Britain is at loggerheads with Brussels over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol that forces checks on goods travelling from the mainland to Ulster.
Mr Johnson has threatened to trigger the emergency Article 16 break clause to suspend the rules claiming they are crippling trade – but is locked in talks with the EU to try avoid having to do so.
But Mr Paisley, MP for North Antrim, has warned time is running out to come good on that threat – or risk nationalists romping to victory in next year’s elections in the province.
The unionist big wig told HOAR that Mr Johnson risks going down in history as as a terrible PM’s if he goes soft on his tough talk.
Amid growing Cabinet concerns that the PM has “gone wobbly”, Mr Paisley says Sinn Fein are on the march and risk seizing control of Stormont if the standoff continues much longer – opening the door to years of wrangling over Irish unification.
He hit out: “This is a do or die moment for the Prime Minister. The past 12 months have cost Northern Ireland dearly.
“Triggering Article 16 is long overdue. It is a legitimate and proportionate response to the failed Protocol that has disrupted internal UK trade, inflated internal UK costs, created political unrest and tensions here are festering.
SINN FEIN IN “POLL POSITION”
“So long as Boris Johnson sticks by this failing status quo, he will only embolden republicans in Northern Ireland and those who want to rip us out of the United Kingdom.
“Let’s be clear PM if this situation continues unchanged Sinn Fein are in poll position to capitalise electorally.
“And they will be given a platform to demand Ulster’s removal from the Union. Is that the outcome you can stomach, Boris?
“I say to the Prime Minister, the alarm is sounding. The Union is being undermined. It’s time to act.
“Take back control of the entire United Kingdom or history will not be kind to your stewardship of the Union.”
Yesterday Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said he is an “optimist” when it comes to the prospect of a deal with the EU on the Protocol, but triggering Article 16 is still on the table as “substantive gaps” remain between the two sides.
He struck a hopeful tone after Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said on Wednesday that reaching an agreement on the protocol before Christmas was “unrealistic”.
Brexit minister Lord Frost previously said both the UK and the EU wanted the dispute “settled one way or the other” before the winter.
A government spokesman said: “The bottom line is that the EU’s proposals don’t go far enough to address the real problems facing people in Northern Ireland because of the Protocol.
“We’re clear we’d rather agree solutions, but if we can’t we’ll have to use the safeguard provisions in the Protocol to preserve stability in Northern Ireland instead.
“The EU urgently needs to show more realism and flexibility if we are going to find an agreed way through.”