EU Warned of ‘Shooting on School Grounds’ on NI Protocol as Attorney General Says It’s Legal to Remove It | Political news


Emergency talks between the UK and the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol are due to take place on Thursday as ministers consider overriding parts of the post-Brexit deal.

UK Attorney General Suella Braverman reportedly approved scrapping entire swaths of the deal, giving Boris Johnson legal cover to move, despite warnings from Joe Bidenof the White House and European leaders not to meddle alone in terms.

And in the next few hours, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Liz Truss will call European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic where she should tell him that the dispute cannot go on forever.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the Good Friday Agreement was more important than the Northern Ireland Protocol as he dismissed suggestions of a possible escalating response from the European Union as ‘crazy’ .

He said there was no need for “drama” as he doubled down on hints that he could undo elements of the deal.

Ms Truss had warned she would ‘not hesitate’ to act, accusing the EU of coming up with solutions that would ‘set us back’.

According to the Times, Ms Braverman had indicated that legislation to override the protocol would be legally valid because of the “disproportionate and unreasonable” way in which it has been implemented by the EU.

She presented evidence accusing the EU of undermining the Good Friday Agreement by creating a trade barrier in the Irish Sea, and warned of “societal unrest” in Northern Ireland, the newspaper said.

There is reportedly a rift within the Cabinet over the move, with Ms Truss, Ms Braverman and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg reportedly supportive, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak worries about the impact on the economy.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why is it important?

It has been suggested that unilateral action by the UK could trigger a trade war in the context of the invasion of Ukraine.

But Mr Johnson told BBC News on Wednesday: ‘Let’s face it, we’re really talking, in the scheme of things, about a very, very small part of the whole of the European economy, and I think 0 .4% of the value of the whole EU economy in Northern Ireland.

“It’s crazy. I didn’t think there was a need for drama. It’s something that just needs to be fixed.”

‘School tit-for-tat’

Speaking to ITV’s Peston programme, Mr Rees-Mogg said the UK would not get involved in any trade wars with the EU.

“Retaliation like this is schoolyard economics and it would hurt UK consumers at a time of rising (prices),” he said.

Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns said on Wednesday night that the British government should take unilateral action on the protocol if it cannot resolve issues with the EU.

Speaking to LBC’s Tonight With Andrew Marr, he said: ‘If the EU tells us that, and it doesn’t, I don’t think so, but to the point of saying it doesn’t there is nothing more to say, then we are going to have to take action to prioritize stability in Northern Ireland, power-sharing in Northern Ireland, to protect the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, and that will mean unilateral intervention, yes.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “No one should unilaterally cancel, break or attack the settlement in any way.”

The White House stressed the need for continued talks to resolve the issues, with a spokesperson saying: “The best way forward is a pragmatic one that requires courage, cooperation and leadership.

“We urge the parties to continue dialogue to resolve differences and bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.”

The British government “is well within its rights”

Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson reiterated his call for the government to act.

He told The Take With Sophy Ridge on Sky News: “Protocol is hurting Northern Ireland, it’s hurting our economy, it’s undermining political stability here, so I think in these circumstances, and in order to safeguard the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement and political institutions, the UK Government is well within its rights to act in these circumstances.”

Minister Michael Gove insisted on Wednesday that Mr Sefcovic and the Foreign Secretary had a “good relationship”, adding: “They will try to make progress tomorrow”.

Civil servants working for Ms Truss are drafting a bill to unilaterally remove the need to screen all goods sent from Britain for use in Northern Ireland.

The proposed law would allow businesses in Northern Ireland to disregard EU rules and regulations and remove the power of the European Court of Justice to rule on matters relating to the region.

Crucially, it would partially undo the protocol agreed by Mr Johnson in 2019 and mean the UK had defaulted on its obligations under the Brexit deal.

But it has been argued that the protocol will not be canceled altogether, with measures being considered to alleviate problems on the ground in Northern Ireland.

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