Boris Johnson vows action over 'absurd' post-Brexit trading arrangements
The New European
- Credit: PA
The prime minister has vowed to take action on the Northern Ireland Protocol if the EU refuses to ditch “absurd” aspects of the post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Johnson said his government was currently working on “sandpapering” the Protocol, which governs Irish Sea trade post-Brexit, to address some of the concerns about trade disruption.
In an interview with BBC NI’s Spotlight programme, the prime minister was also questioned on the potential of a future poll on Northern Ireland’s constitutional status.
Johnson said he could not envisage such a vote for “a very, very long time to come”.
The programme also interviewed Taoiseach Micheal Martin, who insisted the Protocol was not tearing the UK apart.
The new trading arrangements have been cited as a factor behind the recent upsurge of violence in loyalist areas in Northern Ireland.
Loyalists believe the new economic barriers between the region and Great Britain have weakened their place in the UK.
- 1 Could Mexican Coke spark a new Coca-Cola cold war?
- 2 Sadiq Khan re-elected as London mayor as Laurence Fox loses £10k deposit
- 3 A view from inside the Heathrow petri dish
- 4 Why can't the English see what the Scots and Welsh can?
- 5 Labour should never have swallowed the Brexit pill
- 6 The man the Soviet Union left in space
- 7 Noel Clarke: The man who would not take no for an answer
- 8 Election results demonstrate why rejoining EU is a long way off
- 9 Lack of SNP majority shows Scotland is not agitating for indyref2 – Gove
- 10 Is the end finally nigh for EU's most notorious leader?
The Protocol requires a range of new regulatory checks on agri-food goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Some GB goods are banned under the arrangements.
Commercial goods also need to undergo various customs processes.
The Protocol has yet to be fully implemented with various exemptions on checks currently in place.
The EU has taken legal action against the UK for its decision to unilaterally extend some of those grace periods amid continuing talks between the two sides on ways to ease the red tape burden.
Johnson has repeatedly warned that he will trigger a mechanism to suspend the Protocol – Article 16 – if changes to the arrangements cannot be agreed.
“If we can’t make enough progress and if it looks as though the EU is going to be very, very dogmatic about it and we continue to have absurd situations so you can’t bring in rose bushes with British soil into Northern Ireland, you can’t bring British sausages into Northern Ireland, then frankly I’m going to, we’ll have to take further steps,” he told the BBC.
“What we’re doing is removing what I think of as the unnecessary protuberances and barriers that have grown up and we’re getting the barnacles off the thing and sandpapering it into shape.”
Irish premier Martin said the Protocol posed no threat to the integrity of the UK.
“The Protocol is not tearing the United Kingdom apart, that’s just an overly dramatic presentation of it in our view,” he said.
“It explicitly affirms the constitutional position of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent.
“So it’s not a danger to the constitutional position of Northern Ireland at all, and was never intended to be.”
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.