Boris Johnson says UK must offer ‘legislative solution’ to Northern Ireland protocol as ‘insurance’ in case EU deal isn’t done | Political news



Boris Johnson has said the UK must ‘legislatively resolve’ the Northern Ireland Protocol as an ‘insurance’ in case a deal is not reached with Brussels.

Speaking during an official visit to Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister said he would “like” tensions over the arrangement to be ironed out “in a consensual manner with our friends and partners” in the EU.

But he added that the UK also needed the “assurance” of a “legislative solution at the same time”.

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Earlier today, Mr Johnson has been accused of failing to give clear answers after meeting party leaders in Belfast to try to resolve a political impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol – an arrangement to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Sinn Fein has claimed the UK government has been coordinating with the “filibuster tactics” of its political opponents in the DUP who are unhappy with the protocol, which governs Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade deals.

The Prime Minister told reporters that Stormont’s five main parties had issues with Northern Ireland protocol.

“None of the parties – I spoke to all five parties earlier – none of them like the way it works, they all think it can be reformed and improved – from Sinn Fein to SDLP, DUP, all,” he said. .

“The question is, how do you do that? We’d like it to be done in a consensual way with our friends and partners, ironing out the issues, stopping some of those east-west barriers.

“But to achieve that, to have the assurance, we also need to adopt a legislative solution.”

He continued, “We don’t want to take it down. But we think it can be fixed.”

The Prime Minister also said he had made efforts to persuade the DUP to join a power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (left) said talks with Mr Johnson had been ‘quite difficult’

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The DUP wants to see issues with the protocol ironed out before entering a power-sharing administration – and party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said after meeting the Prime Minister he must see decisive action.

But at the same time, the Irish government has warned that if Britain decides to unilaterally withdraw from the protocol, it could jeopardize the broader free trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

‘I think everyone should roll up their sleeves and get stuck into the government of Northern Ireland,’ the Prime Minister said after his talks with party leaders.

Mr Johnson visited the region on Monday, amid a warning from Ireland against unilateral action to overturn the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to formally announce a plan on Tuesday to legislate the protocol.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald called the action plan “outrageous”.

In the meantime, the EU has made it clear that unilateral action by the UK to withdraw from the protocol agreement would represent a clear breach of international law.

The Prime Minister was jeered and jeered at by around 200 people who gathered at the gates of Hillsborough Castle as he arrived to hold talks with the parties in an attempt to resolve the standoff.

Read more:
What is power sharing and why does Northern Ireland use it?
What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why is it important?

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What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

“No clear answers”

Ms McDonald said her party’s talks with the Prime Minister had been “quite difficult”.

She said: “I’m sorry to report that we haven’t really had any clear answers from the UK Prime Minister other than a confirmation of what we already knew, which is that in fact this standoff is entirely coordinated between them and the DUP.

“If the DUP is acting shamefully in holding back the government, then the UK government is behaving even more shamefully.

“The unfortunate thing is that the British government is now playing a tightrope game with the European institutions, indulging in a section of political unionism that believes it can wield veto power and frustrate and ransom the society.”

But DUP leader Sir Jeffrey said he had ‘put in very clear terms’ to the Prime Minister what the UK government needed in relation to the protocol.

“We can’t go on like this,” he said after meeting Mr Johnson.

Sir Jeffrey also dismissed the idea of ​​Mr Johnson picking sides on protocol.

“It’s the same Sinn Fein who were in Dublin this morning asking the Irish government to take their side,” he said. “Sinn Fein do double standards very well.”

The Alliance Party described the meeting with Mr Johnson as ‘robust and very frustrating’.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said on Monday afternoon that the only way to resolve the current standoff between the UK and the EU was through “substantive talks” between the two sides.


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