Doesnt reflect what was agreed EU shamed for only upholding one of four promises in NI

Northern Ireland protocol: 'Nothing off the table' says Lewis

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ITV’s Political Reporter Shehab Khan has confronted former Brexit minister Brandon Lewis on whether he accepted the Northern Ireland Protocol he negotiated has not worked and is, therefore, a failure. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to outline the Government’s plans for legislation that rip up parts of the protocol – a direct breach of the agreement signed by the European Union and the UK in January 2020. Northern Ireland’s political crisis has pushed the UK government to announce the plan and act decisively in a bid to prevent further political instability.

ITV’s Political Reporter Shehab Khansaid: “The fact that you’re considering doing this is surely an acceptance that the Protocol you negotiated has not worked and is, therefore, a failure of your government.”

Mr Lewis said: “It’s an acceptance of the reality that the European Union is insisting on a way of implementing the protocol that doesn’t reflect actually what was agreed in the protocol at two levels.

“One is, there were grace periods put in place to resolve some of these issues, because they couldn’t be resolved at the start of the protocol -they’ve still not been resolved, and that’s gone on for nearly 18 months now.

“But also (as) the protocol itself sets out – we won’t disrupt the everyday lives of the people in their communities. We’ll respect all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, the UK internal market, state functions, and the EU single market.

“That last one being the only bit that has been fully respected.

“We need to resolve all the other four issues for the people of Northern Ireland.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and EU’s Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcociv failed to broker the stalemate in a phone call. While Liz Truss said reviewing the protocol was a matter of the “internal peace and security” of the UK, Maros Sefcovic refused to renegotiate it.

“We have made clear that there is still potential to be explored in our proposals”, Commissioner Sefcovic said.

For his part, Brandon Lewis said there are two levels to the agreement.

“One is, that there are grace periods put in place to resolve some of these issues because they couldn’t be resolved at the start of the protocol.

“They’ve still not been resolved. That’s gone on for nearly 18 months now.

“But also, the protocol itself sets out: we won’t disrupt the everyday lives of people and their communities.”

“We respect all aspects of the Good Friday agreement, the UK internal market, state’s functions and the EU’s single market”, Mr Lewis said.

“That last one being the one bit that has been fully respected.

“We need to resolve all the other four issues for the people of Northern Ireland.” 

The EU’s refusal to renegotiate the agreement has forced the UK Government to consider unilateral action amid political instability in Northern Ireland. Following Northern Ireland’s election, the unionist DUP decided not to elect a speaker to block the formation of a Government until all their concerns around the protocol were addressed. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and his party fear the customs border in the Irish Sea will exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis and further separate Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

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Since the UK Government announced a plan that could override some parts of the protocol, several politicians have called on Liz Truss not to break the agreement.

Following a phone call with Liz Truss, Ireland’s Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said in a tweet: “I made clear that breaking international law is not the answer to solving Protocol issues.

“The EU/UK negotiating teams haven’t met since Feb. Time to get back to the table.”

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