UK under threat! Critics of hated Brexit deal right – huge change in bombshell trade stats

Newsnight: John Major discusses the Northern Ireland Protocol

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In a major bombshell, Irish figures for international trade – released this week – found imports of goods from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland rose by 54 percent to €3.9bn (around £3bn). Exports of goods between the two countries also rose by 65 percent to €3.7bn (£3bn).

In contrast, trade between the Republic of Ireland and Brexit Britain has altered differently.

Imports of goods from the Republic into mainland Britain from by 17 percent from €2bn to €14bn.

However, exports of goods from Britain to the Republic fell by 13 percent.

The Northern Ireland Protocol – signed by Boris Johnson 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.

Both sides have threatened to trigger Article 16 as neither side has been able to come to an agreement.

After taking over Brexit duties from Lord Frost, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has vowed to trigger Article 16 if the EU “does not cooperate”.

Ms Truss has been urged several times to rip up the Protocol and trigger Article 16.

Unionists are unhappy with the agreement which effectively sees Northern Ireland cut off from the rest of the UK by a pseudo-border created along the Irish Sea following Brexit.

The agreement has led to protests, violence and threats against customs staff in Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey said unionism is “rapidly losing faith” a negotiated solution to issues with the Protocol can be achieved as the UK and EU continue talks to resolve the highly sensitive issue.

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Sir Jeffrey recently held a virtual meeting with EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic.

The DUP has repeatedly called for the ongoing Protocol to be scrapped, and for trade agreements to be suspended by triggering Article 16 of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Earlier this month, Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan resigned from his role in protest of the ongoing situation, which sparked the collapse of the power-sharing deal in Stormont.

In response, Sinn Fein has called for elections to resolve the situation, with polls showing the political party favourites to win and take the First Minister role.

The EU has also held talks with other major political parties from Northern Ireland.

Four of the five main Stormont parties also held talks with Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney on Thursday.

Sir Jeffrey could not meet Mr Coveney in person in Belfast due to travel logistics but is expected to speak with him in the coming days.

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