Brexit: NI protocol issue could negatively affect Irish economy
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The Prime Minister is thought to believe that approval to suspend aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol does not need approval from MPs and peers. Given the Protocol is part of an international treaty, officials believe it is a matter for ministers rather than Parliament.
The plan has sparked outrage from former Remainers who are demanding a say on the matter.
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey accused the Government of planning to “ride roughshod over conventions”.
“These are serious and important matters which many of us believe could impact the very unity of our United Kingdom,” he told The Telegraph.
“By failing to have an open debate, the Government could be putting our precious Union at risk.”
Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, Louise Haigh, said: “It is simply unsustainable for a government few in Northern Ireland trust to make huge decisions on their future, without democratically elected leaders and communities having any say whatsoever.”
Following the 2016 referendum, then Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to trigger Article 50 to start the formal process of leaving the EU without a Commons vote.
However, she was forced to consult Parliament following a Supreme Court challenge by the lawyer and activist Gina Miller.
The UK was plunged into a constitutional crisis after repeated failures to get a Brexit deal through the Commons.
Both Mrs May and Mr Johnson failed to convince a majority of MPs to back their deals, leading to a general election.
Government sources have told the Telegraph they are confident they would win a vote on triggering Article 16 but were not planning on holding one.
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Mr Johnson and Lord Frost have repeatedly said they will suspend the Protocol if the EU fails to renegotiate the international agreement.
The Brexit minister has been holding intense talks to try and find a solution on the Protocol in recent weeks.
However, the moment is quickly approaching when he will have to decide whether to trigger Article 16.
Both he and the Prime Minister believe the threshold for unilaterally suspending the deal has already been met.
They argue the Protocol in its current form undermines the UK’s internal market and is negatively impacting the Good Friday Agreement.
On Monday night Mr Johnson said he still hoped a breakthrough in talks with Brussels on the matter could be reached.
He said: “We would rather find a negotiated solution to the problems created by the Northern Ireland Protocol and that still seems possible.
“But if we do invoke Article 16 – which, by the way, is a perfectly legitimate part of that Protocol – we will do so reasonably and appropriately because we believe it is the only way left to protect the territorial integrity of our country and to meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland under the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.”
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