17 May 2022 | NEWS

The Foreign Secretary has given an address to MPs regarding the Government’s plans to deal with the Northern Ireland protocol post-Brexit.

In the House of Commons today, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss set out how the Government will address the issues caused by the Northern Ireland protocol, which formed part of the post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union.

The Northern Ireland protocol is a mechanism that allows for trade between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom without enforcing a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This means that some goods coming from Britain must be checked prior to entering the Republic to ensure that EU goods standards are being met.

This has caused issues surrounding the movement of goods to Northern Ireland and has led to accusations that Northern Ireland is being treated differently to the rest of the United Kingdom.

These issues had led to calls to abandon parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which critics say would break international law.

Ms Truss said in her address that the Government’s preference is to reach an agreement with the EU and that the UK was offering a reasonable solution to the issue. Included in the plans are a trusted trader scheme, which would ensure that goods destined for Northern Ireland remained in Northern Ireland.

However, Ms Truss also announced that the Government would be introducing legislation to make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol in the coming weeks.

Beginning her address, the Foreign Secretary said: “As the Prime Minister said, our shared objective has to be to find a solution that commands the broadest possible cross-community support for years to come and protect the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.

“That is why I am announcing our intention to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to make changes in the Protocol.

“Our preference remains the negotiated solution with the EU. And in parallel with the legislation being introduced, we remain open to further talks if we can achieve the same outcome through negotiated settlement.”

On the Northern Ireland Bill that would alter Northern Ireland Protocol, Ms Truss said: “The Bill will put in place the necessary measures to lessen the burden on east-west trade and to ensure the people of Northern Ireland are able to access the same benefits as the people of Great Britain.”

She added that the Bill would “allow both east-west trade and the EU Single Market to be protected, whilst removing customs paperwork for goods remaining in the United Kingdom. The Bill will remove regulatory barriers to goods made to UK standards being sold in Northern Ireland.

“Businesses will be able to choose between meeting UK or EU standards in a new dual regulatory regime.”

Prior to Ms Truss’ briefing, an EU spokesperson told a press briefing in Brussels: “I think our message is loud and clear: engaging with us on the basis of the proposals we put forward last October, engaging with us on those flexibilities, is a much better course than engaging unilaterally.”

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. His interests include philosophy and sociology.

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