Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New bill to repeal the Brexit protocol for Northern Ireland will arrive in the coming weeks, Truss says

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Foreign Minister Liz Truss will meet with her Brussels counterpart Maros Sefcovic in the next few days to discuss measures

The Foreign Secretary said it was still the Government’s intention to reach a negotiated settlement with the EU over the UK’s problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, but insisted the treaty could not continue in its current form.

New legislation allowing Britain to unilaterally tear up parts of the Brexit deal over Northern Ireland will be tabled in Parliament “in the coming weeks”, Liz Truss told MPs.

But the minister refused to explain how the proposed legislation would avoid violating international law by rescinding an international treaty signed just over two years ago. Such details will be released in due course, she told the House of Commons.

The announcement was immediately attacked by senior Tory backbenchers, who warned the Foreign Secretary against breaking international law.

Ms Truss claimed the bill will introduce the “necessary measures to reduce the strain on east-west trade” and “ensure that the people of Northern Ireland have access to the same benefits as the people of Britain”.

Under the terms of the bill, the UK is making proposals for a ‘green channel’ for goods exported from the UK and products remaining in Northern Ireland.

A proposed red channel means goods going to the Republic of Ireland and the wider EU single market will be fully controlled.

It will include “new measures” to protect the EU’s internal market, including “robust penalties” for those who try to “abuse the new system,” Ms Truss said.

She added: “It will make it possible to protect both east-west trade and the EU single market, while eliminating customs paperwork for goods remaining in the UK.

“The law will remove regulatory barriers to the sale of goods manufactured to British standards in Northern Ireland. In a new dual regulatory system, companies will be able to choose whether they want to meet British or EU standards.”

The legislation will also provide new powers allowing the government to set tax and spending policies across the UK, including Northern Ireland, such as: B. VAT reductions.

Simon Hoare, Tory leader of the Northern Ireland Committee, channeled Margaret Thatcher’s criticism of the proposals.

Mr Hoare said: “The government’s duty is to comply with the law. When it tries to dodge and weave that duty and duck when uncomfortable. If the government does it, then so do the governed. And then nothing is certain. Not at home. Not freedom, not life itself. Not my words, but Margaret Thatcher’s.

“Respect for the rule of law, Mr Speaker, runs deep in our Tory veins. I find it extraordinary that a Tory government needs to be reminded of that,” he added.

Damian Green, the former de facto Deputy Prime Minister, expressed fears that the protocol could be torn up by the government. “Can i ask [Ms Truss] trying to ensure some consistency in government messages during the ongoing negotiations and that indeed a negotiated solution would be preferable? he said.

Tory Justice Committee leader Sir Bob Neil warned that sticking to the UK’s legal obligations was important “not only in terms of the overall objective but also in terms of the UK’s international reputation”.

Ms Truss added she will be meeting with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and Northern Ireland parties to discuss the full details of the bill.

There were early indications that the government’s move may have paved the way for the DUP to rejoin power-sharing discussions in the Stormont Assembly, based on the progress of the legislation.

In response to the announcement, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party would provide a “graded response” to the proposals.

Sir Jeffrey said the declaration was “overdue” but added it was a “significant step in addressing the problems created by the protocol and getting power-sharing back up and running based on a cross-community consensus”.

“As such, we hope to see progress on a bill to address these matters in days and weeks rather than months. As legislation progresses, we will take a phased and cautious approach,” he added.

This story will be updated.

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