The situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security in the UK, said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. The EU warns against going it alone.
London threatens EU over post-Brexit rules for Northern Ireland The situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security in the United Kingdom, said Foreign Minister Liz Truss in a statement after a phone call with EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic on Thursday. If the EU does not show the necessary flexibility to help solve these problems, then London has “no choice but to act”.
The European Union warned Britain against unilateral changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol. “Unilateral measures” are “simply not acceptable,” Sefcovic said after the call to Truss. Going it alone would “undermine” EU-UK trust, he added.
London wants to renegotiate the contract, Brussels only wants to adjust it
London wants to fundamentally renegotiate the protocol jointly negotiated in the wake of Brexit, while Brussels is only willing to make adjustments. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has been threatening to withdraw from the deal for months. That would increase the risk of a trade dispute with the European Union at a time of rising inflation.
The agreement provides for special customs rules for Northern Ireland in order to keep the border between the British province and the EU state of Ireland, which is sensitive for historical reasons, open. However, the agreement has created a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea, separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. This development took on new explosiveness at the weekend because the Catholic-Republican party Sinn Fein became the strongest party in the general election in Northern Ireland for the first time. It pursues the goal of secession from Great Britain and a union with Ireland.
Northern Ireland Protocol as ‘hurdle’ to government formation
The Northern Ireland protocol has become the biggest hurdle to the formation of a regional government in the country, Truss said, according to the British statement. The situation is causing “unacceptable disruption” to intra-British trade and has resulted in a two-tier society in which Northern Irish people are treated differently from other UK residents.
In the Northern Ireland regional parliament, the majority of MPs support the protocol. However, the main Protestant Unionist party, the DUP, is calling for the regulation to be lifted. The DUP has said it will not join a unity government with Sinn Fein until the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute is resolved.