Northern Ireland: Truss has continued 'politicisation' says expert
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The UK’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, is set to brief business and industry groups in Belfast tomorrow about government’s intention to override key parts of Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement. The agreement included keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods, while the rest of Britain remained out of it – effectively creating a customs border in the Irish sea. This was something Mr Johnson reassured voters would only happen “over [his] dead body”, in 2020.
Now Alistair Campbell, former director of communications for Tony Blair, has blasted the PM’s plan to override parts of his own agreement, highlighting its impacts on the historic Good Friday Agreement.
He said on Twitter: “As I say on today’s @RestIsPolitics of many reasons to despite this government, right up there is the cavalier wilful negligence re the Good Friday Agreement.
“Just one more plaything in the game of Johnson survival and Brexit delusion.
“Ffs wake up people. This lot cannot survive”.
The government is preparing legislation that would aim to create a “dual regulatory regime”, which they say will remove the need for checks and paperwork on goods entering Northern Ireland.
They say this will “fix” parts of the Northern Ireland protocol to try and remove the checks and reduce the administrative burden on goods moving from Britain into Northern Ireland.
Some responded to Mr Campbell’s rant by questioning whether the bill had been suggested in order to distract from the substantial Tory rebellion against Mr Johnson in a confidence vote on Monday (June 6).
Twitter user @hinsliff said: “You don’t suspect this is in the news to get focus moved on from the No Confidence Vote.
“Let’s row about the EU instead.”
The new legislation aims to give UK government ministers powers to allow goods from Britain to circulate freely in Northern Ireland.
This will rely on a system of surveillance on products crossing the Irish Sea into the country.
This will doubtlessly raise tensions with the EU as it compromises the single market for goods.
Fixing the Northern Ireland protocol has emerged as crucial for the government as it threatens to undermine the crucial Good Friday Agreement, which brought violent conflict between Unionists and Republicans to a stop in Northern Ireland.
Unionists argue the protocol has not only damaged the country’s economy by adding costs and delays with post-Brexit checks, it has also eroded its place in the United Kingdom.
Asked whether she was willing to risk a potential trade war with the EU over the legislation, British foreign secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday that the government wanted to create “green lanes” for goods moving into Northern Ireland and a “red lane” for goods bound for the EU.
Ms Truss claimed the move “would protect the EU single market at the same time as enabling goods to flow freely around the UK.”
She added it was a “win-win for both the people of Northern Ireland and protecting the EU single market”.
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A Northern Irish business figure has already dismissed the proposal as unworkable to the Irish Times, saying: “You cannot produce to two different standards on one farm in Northern Ireland”.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Europe would respond “in a calm a firm way” to the UK’s plan.
He said to the European Parliament yesterday that the UK taking a unilateral approach “will not work”.
He added: “I think that would be deeply damaging because it would represent the violation of international agreements.
“And it really is very difficult to comprehend it … in this day and age to be contemplating that.”
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