IAN Paisley has claimed Boris Johnson gave him a guarantee ahead of the 2019 general election that the British prime minister intended "tearing up" the protocol after he secured victory at the polls.
The DUP MP's remarks come in the wake of a series claims by former Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings that the Tory leader never understood the implications of the Withdrawal Agreement and that he always intended to “ditch” the post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Mr Cummings has made the allegations in a series of tweets.
Mr Paisley said that Mr Johnson gave him personal assurances that after coming to an agreement with the EU his intention was to “sign up to changing that protocol and indeed tearing it up".
The North Antrim MP told the BBC's Newsnight that the prime minister's remarks had now "been verified by another source much closer to Boris Johnson within his own government" – a reference to Mr Cummings.
“So the fact of the matter is, I do believe, that the government didn’t really want this to happen to Northern Ireland and they took a short-term bet," Mr Paisley said.
"The trouble is this has cost the business people of Northern Ireland £850m which we can’t afford so it’s gotta be fixed and it’s gotta be fixed well.”
The conversation is said to have taken place ahead of the December 2019 general election in the run-up to Westminster's first vote on the Withdrawal Agreement at the end of the previous October.
Mr Paisley described the EU's latest proposals to mitigate the protocol as a “significant climbdown”.
“Over the last 10 months now the EU have consistently told us that this has been written in stone, in fact it was more sacrosanct than the Ten Commandments, it could never be changed, and now suddenly they’ve come up with proposals that do indicate a mindset that they are prepared to change it – but it falls well short of where it needs to be,” he said.