Liz Truss outlines 'necessity to act' on Northern Ireland protocol
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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced the legislation to Parliament on Tuesday, insisting the bill will not breach international law. The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed more than two years ago, but the UK has claimed the deal led to a so-called trade border in the Irish Sea. Ms Truss said the proposed legislation would resolve “the grave situation in Northern Ireland”.
When will the legislation be introduced?
The Government doesn’t intend to push through any changes to the protocol straight away.
Instead, ministers are aiming to introduce the bill before the summer recess – a provisional date has been set for July 21.
Meanwhile, negotiations with the European Union (EU) on the protocol will continue to take place.
The new law will make changes to the protocol rather than scrapping it altogether, according to Ms Truss.
The deal currently removes the threat of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland by allowing goods to flow freely between the two nations.
But goods which arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are now being subjected to more stringent checks and controls.
The Government has been seeking amendments to the Brexit deal, though the EU has insisted “renegotiation is not an option”.
In response to the announcement, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said he had “significant concerns” about the plans.
He cautioned the bloc will “respond with all measures at its disposal”, should the UK push through with the changes.
He said: “With political will and commitment, practical issues arising from the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland can be resolved.
“The European Commission stands ready to continue playing its part, as it has from the outset.”
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has thrown his support behind the law and insisted it’s not his intention to “scrap” the Protocol.
Under the new legislation, “green” and “red” lanes for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be introduced.
The bill would ensure goods moving and staying in the UK are “freed of unnecessary bureaucracy” if they are not destined for the EU.
And in a new dual regulatory regime, it would allow businesses to choose between meeting UK or EU standards.
The Government has come under new scrutiny to find a solution on the protocol after elections were held in Northern Ireland’s General Assembly earlier this month.
Sinn Fein emerged from the vote as the largest party in Stormont for the first time, but have yet been able to form an executive due to resistance from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Northern Ireland’s power sharing agreement requires nationalist and unionist parties to work in tandem.
However, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and the DUP are refusing to enter the arrangement until their concerns on the protocol have been addressed.
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