After seeming eons, the Tory government has at last emerged from its torpor and fear of offending the EU, to start addressing the shortcomings of the Northern Ireland Protocol in some concrete manner.
The Foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has made a statement to the Commons outlining her plans – and the only feedback she got from the pro-EU opposition, and that includes some MPs on her own backbenches, was that she must not ‘break international law’.
Triggering Article 16 to address the problems that the EU’s over-zealous approach to enforcing the protocol, is not breaking international law.
Article 16 is one of the clauses within the Withdrawal Agreement, so is part of the protocol procedures. And just like every other clause in the Withdrawal Agreement it can be used when the circumstances that allow its use are met.
And those circumstances have been met!
In fact, they were met months ago, but the UK government has been slow to act. Too slow. Societal and economic damage has already been done in Northern Ireland and trade diverted long ago.
Businesses in the Republic of Ireland have benefited greatly from this one-sided application of the Protocol by Brussels. To the point now, that when the UK applies Article 16, if trade resets itself with UK businesses once again providing the lion’s share of goods into Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland will claim the new trade they’ve wrongly acquired in the last few months has been lost – and that the UK will have to pay a price for it.
We have to be ready for that claim and firmly rebut it!
And the Republic of Ireland will not just have the EU behind them, they will also have the US political machine at their beck and call. Not just from the Democrat Party, whose Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, very recently gave the UK government a dressing down over the protocol and threatened to veto any UK-US trade deal. No, all US parties are out for every vote they can get, and that includes votes from the Irish American community.
So, with the US mid-term elections coming up in November, we can expect to see both Democrats and Republicans loudly touting their Irish credentials in cross party support for the Republic of Ireland’s flawed position. And this, sadly, will be for their US domestic politics. Their thoughts will not be with the Unionist Community, as they push their one-sided views on the Belfast Agreement and the Protocol while grubbing for votes.
The UK government must not be cowed by any outside pressure like this.
The promise was made to take back control of our borders, not have one imposed within the UK down the Irish Sea. The EU was given a chance to play nicely, but they blew it from day one!
The UK government must now do whatever it takes to get that Irish Sea border and any ECJ jurisdiction in Northern Ireland totally removed.
UK Independence Party Spokesman for Brexit and Northern Ireland