Sir Jeffrey Donaldson denied backing down a threat to withdraw from the executive if his Northern Ireland Protocol demands are not met by the end of October.
The DUP leader also launched a new threat on any government move to legislate for the Irish language in Westminster.
Meanwhile, Brexit Minister Lord Frost will meet with his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in London later.
They will assess whether progress has been made in the protocol negotiations.
The Protocol is the special Brexit deal that prevents a hard border with Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland within the EU single market for goods.
This also creates a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, something the EU accepts is causing difficulties for many businesses.
Unionist politicians say the deal undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.
- Why does Brexit still have a problem with Northern Ireland?
- Why is there a Brexit dispute over a European court?
Sir Jeffrey has insisted on his threat to withdraw from the executive centered on “decisive action” by the government which, according to him, is now on track.
Some within the DUP believe the government is preparing to trigger Article 16 by the end of next month.
Article 16 of the Protocol sets out the process for adopting unilateral “safeguard” measures if the EU or the UK conclude that the deal is causing serious problems.
“I am watching very closely what the government is doing,” said Sir Jeffrey, adding that the next “short term” would be “absolutely crucial”.
When asked if the change in his timeline was a sign of weakness, he replied, “Not at all, it is a sign of strength that you have the confidence to follow and see to the end. I am not one to give up, I want to to see all this and get a solution. “
On the prospect of the government moving on to legislate for the Irish language in Westminster, the leader of the DUP said: “It is not sustainable for the government to keep a commitment but not to keep something much more important.”
Expectations of a turnaround from the negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol are very low, in particular on the issue of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The president of the European Commission said the EU has already shown flexibility.
Speaking to Bloomberg news agency, Ursula von der Leyen also reiterated that only the European Court of Justice can rule on European law.
The president of the European Commission said the situation is “very clear”.
“There is an institution that is ruling on European law and that is the European Court of Justice,” he said.
The UK wants the European Court of Justice to be removed from any dispute resolution role in the protocol.
On Tuesday, Lord Frost said that the role of the Court of Justice was not the only problem and that the protocol meant “too much EU law” applied in Northern Ireland.
The UK wants fundamental changes to the functioning and governance of the protocol.
The EU has proposed a package of measures that would reduce its practical impact.
Friday’s meeting comes amid growing EU-UK tensions over the issue of fishing rights around Jersey.
The UK summoned the French ambassador after a British fishing vessel was arrested.
Foreign Minister Liz Truss said France has launched “disappointing and disproportionate threats” against the UK and the Channel Islands.
- NI Brexit
- EU-UK post-Brexit trade talks
- David Frost
- DUP (Democratic Unionist Party)
Why does Brexit still have a problem with Northern Ireland?
- 13 October
UK says new NI protocol is “constructive”
- 5 days ago
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