Peter Robinson: Doug Beattie has to say where he wants Unionist Ulster voters to go after giving UUP their first preference

Peter Robinson is a former DUP chief and prime minister of Northern Ireland, who writes a column every other Friday

Some say he just doesn’t take advice.

Others claim he is advised by Mike Nesbitt.

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Doug Beattie, right, at Stormont this week with Jeffrey Donaldson, Billy Hutchinson and Jim Allister, in a joint stance against protocol

It seems to be everywhere, so either statement could be true.

One day he firmly rejects a proposal by Sir Jeffrey to work together to maximize the number of pro-Union anti-protocol MPs while preventing Sinn Fein from becoming the biggest party and next he signs a declaration, facilitated by the ‘Order of Orange. , and co-signed by Sir Jeffrey, Jim Allister and Billy Hutchinson to oppose the EU protocol due to its impact on Northern Ireland.

I thought the statement was useful and demonstrated union opposition to the undemocratic, unconstitutional, and economically destructive protocol, although it appeared to be the lowest common denominator at which the four union leaders could hear each other.

Its biggest failure was the lack of an agreed plan to do anything to oppose the protocol – other than to declare its opposition to the protocol.

As a result, Mr Beattie may buckle and lobby, but has not committed to doing anything else to stop the “mechanisms and structures” of the protocol that he says are inflicting serious damage.

If it’s not a “pact” then?

What will he advise UUP voters to do with their preferences after voting for his candidates?

It has been clear for some time that on a wide range of issues, Mr. Beattie feels more comfortable dressing in something more akin to Alliance Party clothing and whether he accepts the advice of Mike (“a UUP vote is a SDLP vote”) Nesbitt, he also won’t feel uncomfortable with a green tint on his attire.

This is something that worries many in his party who collectively hold their breath as he tries to overcome Alliance liberalism. But faced with the question “What then? He must know that he could not credibly last eight months without being repeatedly faced with the question of whether he would prefer UUP transfers to go to anti-protocol unionists or to the Alliance. protocol support, SDLP and Sinn fein.

So, better get rid of it now.

Mr Beattie could drive away the lighter interviewers by avoiding and deflecting responses by stating that he is asking people to vote for his party, and that they should then vote according to their own preferences, but the more he is pushed by them. serious interviewers and the more he avoids answering the question directly, the less convincingly he will resemble a leader and therefore the less people will believe in him.

This is especially true in an election that is likely to involve protocol, especially if it is triggered because the government has not acted to fulfill the substance of its own command document which confidently declares that the case for trigger article 16 already exists on the grounds that the protocol causes “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties likely to persist, or of trade diversion”.

So here’s an opportunity to get out of the fence Doug, will you advise UUP voters to give their extra transfers to your declaration co-signers or protocol advocates?

What answer will we get from the mighty Doug?

Will it be a direct response, a thunderous silence, an unfurling of straw, or just gossip and blasphemy?

Hopefully, this will be the only possible coherent and logical answer that could be given by someone who is “unabashedly opposed” to the protocol.

For my part, I will vote DUP and then for all the other candidates who oppose the Northern Ireland Protocol and want to fully respect our position as an integral part of the UK, and I advise everyone else to do same.

See, it wasn’t hard to do, was it Doug?

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