Brexit: Liz Truss says Northern Ireland Protocol 'isn't working'
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Ms Truss is reportedly drawing up draft legislation to unilaterally scrap the need for checks on all goods being sent between Britain and Northern Ireland. The law would also mean businesses in Northern Ireland can disregard EU rules and remove the power of the European Court of Justice in the country.
The new bill would override the Northern Ireland protocol agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019 and breach the UK’s obligations under the Brexit agreement.
A Government source confirmed that Ms Truss intended to move unilaterally to prepare to change parts of the protocol but denied the UK government had given up on negotiation.
Given the Stormont election results, Ms Truss is understood to have formed the view that the UK cannot wait for negotiations to conclude.
The Northern Ireland protocol checks goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to allow an open border with Ireland, which is within the EU’s single market and customs union.
However, unionists argue that the current measures undermine Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said it will not enter a new power-sharing executive until issues surrounding the protocol are resolved.
Some Cabinet ministers, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Levelling up secretary Michael Gove, were said to be cautious towards Ms Truss’s strategy.
They are said to be worried about a potential trade war with the EU and escalating the cost of living crisis.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “Our focus has been, and will continue to be, preserving peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
“No decisions have yet been taken on the way forward. However, the situation is now very serious.
“We have always been clear that action will be taken to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement if solutions cannot be found to fix the protocol.”
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said he has encouraged the UK and EU to intensify negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol during a call with Mr Johnson on Tuesday.
Mr Martin also spoke to Mr Johnson about the stalemate over a new government in Northern Ireland.
After the call, Mr Martin tweeted: “We both agreed on the need to see the NI Executive formed as soon as possible.
“On the Protocol, I stressed the need to intensify EU and UK discussions, and to avoid any unilateral action.”
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