Focus on protecting Belfast Good Friday Agreement: Liz Truss

Focus on protecting Belfast Good Friday Agreement: Liz Truss

The protocol was intended to prevent customs checks along Northern Ireland's border with the Republic, but it has been blamed for disruption to trade with Great Britain. There is anger among unionists who claim it undermines the status of the province as a full part of the United Kingdom. Ms Truss, who is seen as a leading contender to replace Boris Johnson at the helm of the Conservative Party, told the Sunday Express: "Furthermore, this is about peace and stability in Northern Ireland." If you voted Leave or Remain, represent the UK or EU, the focus must be on protecting the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and fixing the protocol. That is my message in these negotiations. Instead of re-running past arguments, we need to focus on delivering for the people of Northern Ireland, finding practical solutions to problems on the ground and maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom. I look forward to meeting Vice President Efovi tomorrow to review progress. We need to make it happen, because there is a deal to be done. The meeting followed a meeting between the couple at Chevening House, the foreign secretary's country residence earlier this month. Ms Truss and Mr. ef ovi will sit down for a closed meeting before being joined by senior UK and EU officials.

Ms Truss was in Australia last week and held daily calls with the UK negotiations team as technical talks got underway in Brussels. She spoke to Mr ef ovi on Friday for a stock take on progress. Ms Truss said last week that the protocol is failing on its own terms and has lost the consent of the Unionist community. She is concerned that needless paperwork has put hundreds of businesses off trading within the United Kingdom and is calling for the end of any role for the European Court of Justice ECJ She said: We need a tough approach. It is not acceptable to have the integrity of our internal market put under strain in this way. The protocol envisages that it could be replaced. Our negotiating goal should be to remove ECJ involvement.

Lord Frost's robust approach resulted in an excellent result in the EU trade negotiations. That is how we protect our national interests and make sure we have got a deal on Brexit for the whole of our country. Matthew O Toole, a SDLP member of Northern Ireland's Stormont Assembly, defended the protocol and said there was no appetite for political theatrics from the UK Government.

He said that most people and businesses in Northern Ireland want the protocol to work. It is already protecting our economy from the worst of Brexit and leading to huge opportunities, as demonstrated by the massive increase in North-South trade. The UK and EU should focus on making sure that they take advantage of the opportunities, and resolving outstanding issues around smoothing the movement of goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland, including a comprehensive veterinary agreement. There is no appetite or need for more political theatrics from the Tory government, just a focus on practical solutions and implementation. Ben Habib, a businessman and ex-Brexit Party MEP who challenged the legality of the protocol, said Ms Truss should be prepared to unilaterally suspend it by triggering Article 16.

He said no sovereign nation could accept being subject to the supremacy of a foreign court and for its own people not being able to trade freely amongst themselves. It is high time to put that right. Negotiations have been going on for a long time. Too much damage has already been done. If Maros ef ovi does not agree with these very reasonable demands, negotiations must be ended and unilateral action taken. Our government was elected to deliver the entire country out of the European Union. They can't claim that the Protocol is ditched or drastically altered, and that's why they can't claim it's done. Former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that Ms Truss's priority should be to make Northern Ireland fully part of the UK again. Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, warned Conservative MPs that it is indefensible for the people of Northern Ireland to be subject to EU laws without them having a say. He claims that the protocol is costing the province s economy 2.5 million each and every day.