Brexit: NI Protocol is 'damaging the union' says Kate Hoey
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On Saturday, the Foreign Secretary vowed to trigger Article 16 if the EU “does not cooperate” ahead of crunch talks with her Brussels counterpart Maros Sefcovic. Ms Truss and Mr Sefcovic will meet on Thursday for their first face-to-face talks.
Triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol would allow one side to unilaterally suspend the rules of the treaty.
Now, Conservative MP John Redwood has praised Ms Truss’ threat.
He has accused the EU of “constantly” breaking and distorting the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The MP for Wokingham tweeted: “Glad Liz Truss is trying to force a sensible agreement on GB trade with Northern Ireland.
“The best answer is simply for the UK to take control of all internal UK trade and let it flow, as the original Agreement implied.
“The EU constantly breaks and distorts the Protocol.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol – agreed in the Brexit deal – is designed to avoid customs checks along the Irish border.
It means goods – including medicines – can flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
However, goods arriving from the rest of the UK are subject to control to ensure they comply with EU standards.
Due to a “grace period”, controls have not yet been imposed on the movement of products.
The grace period was expected to expire in January but the UK Government has indefinitely extended it.
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic met on several occasions in a bid to resolve teething issues with the Protocol.
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After taking over key aspects of Brexit negotiations from Lord Frost last year, Ms Truss said she will be “putting forward our constructive proposals to resolve” the ongoing issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms Truss promised she would not “sign up” to anything that will not benefit the people of Northern Ireland.
In a Telegraph column, titled ‘I will trigger Article 16 if the EU does not cooperate’, Ms Truss wrote: “I am prepared to work night and day to negotiate a solution.
“But let me be clear, I will not sign up to anything which sees the people of Northern Ireland unable to benefit from the same decisions on taxation and spending as the rest of the UK, or which still sees goods moving within our own country being subject to checks.
“My priority is to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
“I want a negotiated solution but if we have to use legitimate provisions including Article 16, I am willing to do that.
“This safeguard clause was explicitly designed – and agreed to by all sides – to ease acute problems because of the sensitivity of the issues at play.
“The EU has already invoked this article to introduce a hard border for vaccine exports and, even in the act of withdrawing it, insisted on its right to do so again in the future.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will invoke Article 16 of the Protocol if a deal is not struck with Brussels.
Despite the UK reportedly softening its stance, Downing Street has insisted the option to invoke Article 16 remained on the table.
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