'The UK can not be trusted' following Northern Ireland Protocol move

Ruben Hill
March 4, 2021

Some in Northern Ireland and several leading Brexit supporters want Johnson to scrap the protocol.

1 July: End of a six-month grace period for Great Britain-Northern Ireland trade on chilled meat products, which aren't permitted to be imported to the European Union at all.

A new cross-Channel row erupted Wednesday as Britain threatened to break the terms of the Brexit withdrawal treaty by unilaterally delaying checks on food going to Northern Ireland.

"For the second time in the course of a few months, the British government has threatened to breach global law", Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told Virgin Media television, referring to a similar unilateral move past year that London eventually dropped.

"This also constitutes a clear departure from the constructive approach that has prevailed up until now, thereby undermining both the work of the Joint Committee and the mutual trust necessary for solution-oriented co-operation".

The clause was signed as a measure to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland and respect the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998.

He said progress was needed to "address the direct and often disproportionate impact that aspects of the protocol are having on the citizens of Northern Ireland, contrary to its intended purpose", according to a United Kingdom government spokesperson.

On Thursday, Irish Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney said the European Union is negotiating with a partner it "simply can not trust".

The European Union said Wednesday that Britain's "unilateral action" on trade rules will breach worldwide law and is threatening legal action as post-Brexit tensions continue to escalate between the two sides.

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Sefcovic - who co-chairs with Frost a joint EU-UK committee meant to work through issues related to the Brexit treaty - stressed that the agreement aims to protect the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought an end to decades of political violence in Northern Ireland.

'Certification requirements will then be introduced in phases alongside the rollout of the Digital Assistance Scheme'.

They said they would not restore support for the deal until their rights were restored and the Northern Irish Protocol was amended to safeguard trade between Northern Ireland and Britain. The government has set out a plan for unlocking the country in four stages as the vaccination programme progresses, with the first stage beginning on the 8 March with reopening of schools, allowing for two people to meet socially outdoors and care home residents to have contact with one regular visitor.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis triggered the dispute by announcing that London will delay from April until October 1 a grace period under which food and farm products can flow to Northern Ireland from mainland Britain without customs inspections.

The development came as the UK Government took unilateral action on Wednesday to extend a grace period that has been limiting the volume of red tape associated with moving agri-food goods from GB into Northern Ireland.

"A unilateral announcement is deeply unhelpful to building the relationship of trust and partnership that is central to the implementation of the Protocol", Coveney said.

'Grace periods do not provide the long-term certainty that businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland require.

"Senior sources say the Commission has made genuine efforts to find workable solutions to the problems surrounding the protocol, but these have been swept aside by a British solo run".

Northern Ireland's agriculture minister said last week construction of those facilities had been halted over concerns about the new rules.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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