Sorry EU! Boris Johnson to use legal loophole to unilaterally change NI protocol deal

Ireland: Johnson 'prepared for fundamental action' says Hoey

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The UK and the European Union were at loggerheads over the Northern Ireland protocol after Brussels unilaterally triggered Article 16 in a bid to prevent the coronavirus vaccine from entering the UK from the nation. Despite the bloc withdrawing the article, Brexit-backing peer Kate Hoey has urged for an immediate amendment of the protocol as she warned Boris Johnson could make the necessary changes to avoid further disruption to trade in Northern Ireland unilaterally. Speaking to the eurosceptic Bruges Group earlier this week, Baroness Hoey said: “There are other ways, it doesn’t have to be Article 16.

“The Government could decide to legislate – remember, we had something called the Internal Market Bill, which a lot of the Remainers jumped on as breaking international law.

“It actually would have allowed any situation where Northern Ireland was being affected economically to societally or environmentally to be altered. It would have given the Government the power to do that and would’ve overwritten it.

“There are other ways we can do it and I’ve been quite optimistic when I heard the Prime Minister say over the past couple of weeks, when pushed repeatedly, he is prepared to do something fundamental about the protocol.”

The Internal Market Bill was first tabled in September in a bid to grant the British Government the power to ensure smooth trade could be maintained between all UK nations regardless of the arrangements struck with the European Union. 

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The bill ultimately passed in December 2020 after the House of Lords repeatedly rejected it, prompting the Government to withdraw a series of controversial clauses that sparked concerns about the respect of international law.

Despite the UK and the EU coming to a final trade agreement on December 24, 2020 both sides have expressed some concerns after disruption emerged at the border.

Boris Johnson has been facing calls to push for changes to the protocol long before Brussels triggered Article 16 over the Covid vaccines.

Former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble, a leading player in the negotiations of the landmark 1998 Good Friday Agreement, urged the UK and the EU to stop “playing fast and lose” with Northern Ireland.

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Writing in the Irish Times, Baron Trimble said: “As someone who loves my country, and made real personal and political sacrifices to bring peace and normality to it, I implore my own Government, the Irish Government and the EU to stop playing fast and loose with the hard-won arrangements in the Belfast Agreement.

“My primary objection to the protocol is that it changes fundamentally the constitutional relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

“The laws that will apply to the economy, the environment, agriculture, workers rights, and regulations covering everything from building standards to use of weedkillers, no longer will be made at our parliament in Westminster or the local Assembly in Belfast.

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“They will instead be determined by a foreign authority in Brussels.”

The DUP in Northern Ireland are pushing to scrap the mechanism, which has caused red tape on goods transported to the nation from the rest of the UK.

Micheal Martin said the stance of Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party was disappointing.

Speaking at the online ceremony this week held by the European Movement Ireland, Mr Barnier said: “We travelled several times to Ireland and Northern Ireland, we went to the border, we walked on the peace bridge in Derry/Londonderry.”

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