NI: PM preparing to alter protocol ahead of crisis talks

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – According to a senior government source, the UK government is planning to introduce legislation that would empower London ministers to overturn aspects of the Brexit deal affecting Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson will travel to Belfast later this month to promote the reinstatement of the government of Northern Ireland.

Because of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has refused to enter the assembly.

Its goal was to keep free trade flowing over the Irish land border.

The last assembly election on May 5 solidified a majority for those who embrace the protocol, including Sinn Féin, the country’s new largest party. However, unionist politicians have resisted it.

The DUP claims that the protocol has weakened devolution’s underpinnings and weakened Northern Ireland’s position in the UK.

Despite signing the agreement, Mr Johnson acknowledges that revisions are required.

The agreement, he wrote in the Belfast Telegraph, was out of date and did not represent the reality of a post-Covid age marked by a European conflict and a cost-of-living crisis.

He added that he was ready for a conversation but that if the EU did not modify its position, the UK would have to act.

The fundamentals

  • The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit agreement, and it allows goods to freely move between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (in the European Union)
  • When trucks cross the border, they are not required to stop and certify that their cargo complies with EU regulations.
  • Instead, when goods arrive in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, they are inspected (England, Scotland, Wales)
  • Because of Northern Ireland’s violent past, the border is a sensitive matter, and politicians do not want new checks there.
  • However, unionist politicians are opposed to the protocol (who support Northern Ireland being part of the UK). It is said that this means Northern Ireland is treated differently than England, Scotland, and Wales.
  • The UK government has suggested that elements of the protocol may be scrapped, but the EU has warned that it will react.

According to a senior government source, unless there are any last-minute modifications, the administration will submit legislation to remove elements of the protocol to facilitate trade.

However, such law would have to be approved by parliament, which might take months.

Some believe that if the UK acts alone, it would provoke retaliation from European countries, leading to a trade war, which is the last thing many businesses and consumers want during a cost-of-living crisis.

Kourtney Spak

Kourtney Spak is an american journalist and political commentator. Her journalism career focuses on American domestic policy and also foreign affairs. She also writes on environment, climate change and economy.