Liz Truss outlines 'necessity to act' on Northern Ireland protocol
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Tensions between the UK and EU ramped up today after the Foreign Secretary told MPs in the House of Commons that the Government would introduce legislation to change the post-Brexit trade deal affecting Northern Ireland. Ms Truss said: “As the Prime Minister said, our shared objective has to be to find a solution that can command 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 to the Protocol.
“Our preference remains a negotiated solution with the EU.
“In parallel with the legislation being introduced, we remain open to further talks if we can achieve the same outcome through negotiated settlement.
“I have invited Vice-President Sefcovic to a meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee in London to discuss this as soon as possible.
“However, to respond to the very grave and serious situation in Northern Ireland we are clear that there is a necessity to act to ensure the institutions can be restored as soon as possible.
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“The Government is clear that proceeding with the Bill is consistent with our obligations in international law – and in support of our prior obligations in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.”
Following Ms Truss’ intervention, the European Commission’s Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said: “The European Commission stands ready to continue discussions with the UK government to identify joint solutions within the framework of the Protocol that would benefit people and businesses in Northern Ireland.”
He added “Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the Protocol as announced today by the UK government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal.
“Our overarching objective is to find joint solutions within the framework of the Protocol.
“That is the way to ensure legal certainty and predictability for people and businesses in Northern Ireland.”
Peter Foster, the public policy editor at the Financial Times, took to social media to share his thoughts about the European Commission’s response to Ms Truss’ statement.
Mr Foster said: “As predicted. EU not jumping the gun here…
“‘Should the UK decide…’ only then does EU use all measures at its disposal.
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“But if EU won’t move; DUP won’t go back into power-sharing and UK can’t move legislation for a year… begs Q of how UK can move the ball forward here.”
The Democratic Unionist Party, the largest pro-UK party in Northern Ireland, has refused to form an Executive in Stormont following concerns about the Protocol.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party believes the checks on goods from the UK effectively places a border in the Irish Sea and undermines Northern Ireland’s place within the union.
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