Northern Ireland protocol ‘works’, says Jones
Mr Johnson told the Belfast Telegraph that a lot has changed since the protocol was agreed: “It was designed before a global pandemic and a European war which created a cost of living crisis of a magnitude never seen for half a century. ”
The Prime Minister challenged Brussels to accept that changes could be made: “The EU has told us that it is impossible to make the changes to the text of the protocol to really solve these problems in the negotiations – because it there is no mandate to do so. “
“We will always keep the door wide open for true dialogue. And we will continue to protect the single market – as it has been throughout the existence of the protocol so far and the open border with the Republic of Ireland which will always be of paramount importance.”
“There is definitely a sensible landing place in which everyone’s interests are protected. Our common goal must be to create the broadest possible cross-community support for a reformed protocol in 2024.”
Boris Johnson set to visit Northern Ireland
He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning: “There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of threats, about what the EU will or won’t do. It’s up to them to decide.”
“As far as I am concerned, our main duty as the UK government is to ensure political stability in Northern Ireland. If that means reviewing the protocol, we absolutely must.”
“I think this talk of a trade war is irresponsible and I think it’s completely beyond us.”
“That’s up to the EU to decide. We think it would be completely counterproductive if they went into a trade war, but that’s up to them.
During his visit, Mr Johnson will tell Northern Ireland leaders that any move to change post-Brexit trade rules must also restore power-sharing to Stormont.
Following the May 5 elections, the anti-protocol Democratic Unionist Party refused to engage with the assembly.
A new administration cannot be formed without them.
The PM is expected to say there is ‘no substitute for strong local leadership’.
IEA says EU should review UK’s July 2021 plan to renegotiate protocol
“I hope that the position of the EU will change. If not, action will have to be taken. The government has a responsibility to provide assurance that consumers, citizens and businesses in Northern Ireland are protected over the long term. We will present a more detailed assessment and next steps to Parliament in the coming days.”
Brussels has made it clear that such unilateral action to withdraw from a key part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement would represent a clear breach of international law.
Hinting at possible trade wars, Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said there would be a “consequence” if the UK’s actions created significant uncertainty on the island of Ireland.
But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng played down the prospect of the dispute ending in a bitter trade war between London and Brussels.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson wants action on NI protocol
He will urge members of the Stormont assembly to ‘get back to work to settle the bread and butter issues’.
The protocol, part of the UK-EU Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland aligned with the EU’s single market for goods, establishes a trade border in the Irish Sea between the Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
It was designed to ensure that free trade could continue across the Irish land border, but unionist politicians opposed it.
The DUP has warned that actions rather than words are needed from the Government to break the Stormont impasse.
Ahead of Mr Johnson’s visit, party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: ‘The Prime Minister’s visit to Northern Ireland is an acknowledgment that protocol is not working and is hurting Northern Ireland. These issues need to be addressed.”
“We are waiting to hear what the Prime Minister has to say, but we will not pass judgments based on words. This is decisive action that must be taken. The problems have been clearly identified and I have established seven tests against which the action will be judged.”
“Until this step is taken, the necessary consensus for power sharing in Northern Ireland does not exist. We respect the mandate received by the other parties but equally, they must recognize the clear point of view expressed by the Unionist electorate.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and the trade unionism has been both reasonable and patient.”
The Stormont election saw Sinn Fein displace the DUP to become Northern Ireland’s largest party for the first time.
The DUP remains the largest unionist party in the region and, under Stormont rules, a new executive can only be formed if they agree to nominate for the post of Deputy Prime Minister.
The DUP has also blocked the appointment of a new Speaker of the Assembly, meaning the legislature in the Parliament Buildings in Belfast cannot meet while the deadlock continues.
Sinn Fein, now entitled to the premiership, has accused the DUP of holding the people of Northern Ireland to ransom by not allowing Stormont to operate amid a cost of living crisis.
Bus protests in Belfast
£850m annual cost of ‘trade damaging’ deal
Britain may take unilateral steps to revise the Northern Ireland Protocol as it fails to meet its key objectives, a report has found.
The Institute of Economic Affairs says it hurts trade – something the deal was designed to avoid – and costs around £850m a year.
Between January and March 2021, checks on goods from Britain at Northern Ireland ports accounted for 20% of all EU border checks, more than for any Member State .
This is despite the fact that the population of Northern Ireland is 0.5% of that of the EU.
The IEA says the EU should heed Britain’s July 2021 plan to renegotiate the framework and protocol for trade in goods.
The EU should be open to this, argues the IEA and says the EU proposals would make matters worse.
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost called the report “timely” and said it “highlights the costs of the current situation – economic, fiscal and trade diversion”.
Victoria Hewson, the report’s author, said: “Power-sharing and North/South cooperation have broken down.”
“The Protocol does not meet the intentions of the parties, and it cannot be fair to simply repeat that the UK signed it voluntarily and should be held to its terms, while the people of Northern Ireland suffer adverse effects.”