Northern Ireland: Tory divisions 'undermine' EU negotiations
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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there was “absolutely no reason” for the European Union to retaliate against the UK after plans to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol caused outrage in Brussels and capitals across the bloc. Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned the UK Government’s move could “destabilise” the situation in Northern Ireland and was undermining the work that led to the Brexit agreement with the EU. The UK faces renewed legal action from Brussels after the move to override large parts of the international deal which was struck over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Deputy Editor of ConservativeHome Henry Hill told GB News: “I think the most disheartening for me was the news the legislation was made public that the Prime Minister was joining the Chancellor and Michael Gove, who is the man normally in charge of the Government’s union policy, in criticising Liz Truss for bringing it forward.
“If I were Brussels or Dublin and I was thinking, is the Government serious about picking this fight and having this trade war?
“That is exactly the kind of thing that would encourage me to be belligerent because if we tough this out, Liz Truss doesn’t have Boris’ full support, the Government will likely fold.
“Obviously there are always elements that need discussion, we’re in this very strange situation where people insist a border is part of the Belfast agreement which it isn’t.”
It comes as the leader of the DUP has said Government legislation to empower ministers to scrap the bulk of Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol will restore the region’s place within the UK.
Giving his assessment of the contentious Bill, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it could remove the “long shadow of the protocol” from Northern Ireland.
However, Sir Jeffrey said that would only happen if the laws were enacted, along with associated regulations to implement their provisions.
Addressing a party gathering in the Newry and Armagh constituency, the DUP leader did not commit to a timetable to re-engaging with the powersharing institutions at Stormont.
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The DUP has blocked the establishment of a new ministerial executive following last month’s Assembly election in protest at the protocol, which has created economic barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
This week the UK moved without EU consent to table legislation that could see much of the protocol axed.
The post-Brexit trading arrangements were agreed between the EU and UK during the Brexit divorce talks.
Brussels has reacted angrily to the UK’s move and has warned of retaliatory measures if the Bill is progressed.
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Sir Jeffrey said: “During the election campaign, we indicated that we believed in devolved government and wanted to see the long shadow of the protocol removed so that we could see the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the full functioning of the Northern Ireland Executive.
“That remains our position.
“We are closely examining the details of the Bill but it is our view that if this Bill becomes law, alongside regulations, it will remove that long shadow of the protocol from Northern Ireland.
“It will, in our view, restore our place in the Union and allow a restoration of the equilibrium in Northern Ireland.
“The DUP, in line with its mandate, wants to fully participate in a newly established Northern Ireland Executive in order to implement the other elements of our (election campaign) five-point plan.”
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