Britain’s decision to rip up Northern Ireland protocol ‘astonishes people around the world’ | Political news

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Britain’s decision to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol “surprises many people around the world”, Ireland’s EU affairs minister told Sky News.

Thomas Byrne said the move, which he said “violated international law”, would cause “reputational damage” and suggested it could encourage other nations not to comply with their treaty obligations.

Labor has accused the government of pressing the “nuclear button” above the protocol. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said it was a “fundamental breach of trust”.

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He comes like Brussels threat of legal action after the UK government released legislation that will replace the Protocol – the post-Brexit deal that governs Northern Ireland’s trade deals.

The protocol is designed to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, but effectively creates a border in the Irish Sea and means that exports from Britain are subject to customs checks.

UK says it creates problems for businesses and poses a threat to power-sharing arrangements put in place after the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement – ​​with DUP refusing to back a new government of Ireland of the North until the problems are solved.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News the “unintended consequences” of the protocol – an agreement signed by Britain – meant it had to act as the situation was “gradually getting worse”.

“That’s why the government is determined to act and we are doing it sensibly,” she said.

Ms Truss told Times Radio: “Our solution does not make the situation worse for the EU.

“There is therefore absolutely no reason for the EU to react negatively to what we are doing.”

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Irish Prime Minister: ‘Breach of trust’

But Mr Byrne said: “There is no doubt that it is amazing to many people around the world that Britain signs a treaty and then decides not to abide by it.

“This is particularly the case when there has been a stream of negotiations there, documents produced by the European Commission to try to resolve some of the issues with the protocol.

“But the idea that you’re just waiving your treaty obligations, I think, is really unprecedented and it’s not just that Britain has done it.

“I have no doubt that other countries that may not be as committed to democracy and the rule of law as Britain and are looking at what Britain has done, may reconsider. treaty obligations.

“Why wouldn’t they if Britain is doing this, if Britain is breaking the law?”

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Protocol ‘undermines’ Belfast deal

Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell has warned of the damage that could be done to Britain’s relationship with Europe.

She told Sky News: “We don’t want to start some kind of trade war – because we pressed the nuclear button to say that a deal we signed just a few months ago, we now want to renege on. .

“It doesn’t show us in a very good light internationally, just when we have a cost of living crisis in this country, problems with supply chains, problems with food imports, imports energy.

“We don’t want to escalate this at this time.”

The bill will allow ministers to establish a ‘green lane’ so trusted traders will be allowed to move goods from Britain to Northern Ireland unchecked, as long as the goods remain in the UK.

Goods supplied by companies not part of the Trusted Traders scheme, or products destined for Ireland and the EU, would go through a red lane and be subject to checks.

In a legal guidance document released alongside the bill, the government says the move is justified under international law because of the “truly exceptional situation”.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said the EU viewed the UK’s actions with “great concern” and would consider next steps.

He said that would start with the resumption of legal proceedings against the UK, which he suspended in September, for breaching the 2020 withdrawal treaty.

As well as reviving infringement proceedings against the UK, he said the EU would also consider launching further legal action to protect the integrity of the EU’s single market, as he ruled out renegotiating trade protocol.

What is the “doctrine of necessity”?

Lara Keyy

The new bill passed in Westminster allows him to make changes to the legally binding Northern Ireland protocol negotiated with the EU after Brexit – without any permission from Brussels.

Many argue that this violates international law.

But the government is using a loophole known as the “doctrine of necessity” to circumvent it.

According to the UN’s International Law Commission, the doctrine allows a state to break international law in favor of its own if it faces “grave and imminent peril”.

The Foreign Office argues that the logistical and “socio-political” problems arising from the effective boundary between Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea justify the use of the doctrine.

“The term ‘necessity’ is used in international law to legally justify situations where the only way for a state to safeguard an essential interest is to breach another international obligation,” he said in a statement. communicated.

“The pressure which the provisions of the protocol place on the institutions of Northern Ireland, and more generally on the socio-political conditions, has reached such a point that the government has no other means of safeguarding the essential interests at stake. only by adopting the proposed legislative solution.

“So there is clear evidence of a state of necessity that the government must respond to.”

But former government legal adviser Jonathan Jones, who quit over his handling of Brexit, said the EU would likely find the use of the doctrine “completely unconvincing”.

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