Brexit: Liz Truss to deny colluding with DUP after orders to halt food checks at ports

Brexit: Poots orders halt to checks at Northern Ireland ports

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Liz Truss, 46, who took over post-Brexit talks after Lord Frost resigned last year, is tipped to tell her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic the decision made on Wednesday to end border checks is a matter for the Northern Ireland executive, the Telegraph reports. The broadsheet claimed the foreign secretary will try to convince Mr Sefcovic the Northern Ireland Protocol is failing and urge officials to work towards a solution.

While appearing on ITV’s Peston, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis suggested the Government would not intervene.

He said: “Obviously this is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive, it is something that is within their legal remit.

“It’s exactly the sort of thing we have been warning about, in terms of the stability of the executive and the decisions the executive ministers will take in order to ensure that products can move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in a way that they always have done.”

This comes after on Wednesday DUP minister Edwin Poots ordered his officials to stop Irish Sea border checks from midnight in a move Dublin and some officials in Government claimed was unlawful.

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The Northern Ireland agriculture minister said he had received legal advice saying he could halt inspections of agri-food products coming from the rest of the UK.

Mr Poots said he had ordered the checks to stop at midnight, however, it was unclear whether civil servants would implement the instruction.

The protocol was designed to avoid politically contentious border checks between Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, but has effectively created a border in the Irish Sea.

Mr Poots told a news conference: “The advice concluded that I can direct the (Sanitary and phytosanitary) checks to cease in the absence of executive approval.

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“I have now issued a formal instruction to halt all checks that were not in place on December 31 2020 from midnight tonight.”

Mr Poots’ decision does not affect non agriculture-related checks mandated by the protocol, according to reports.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, who backs the protocol, described Mr Poots’ move as a “stunt” and “an attempt by the DUP to unlawfully interfere with domestic, and international law”.

The checks imposed so far have negatively affected some businesses and led to a surge in trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It is not known whether the senior civil servant in Mr Poots’ department, Anthony Harbinson, will abide with the order and the decision may only become clear once the first ferries arrive at ports on Thursday morning.

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