UK to scrap post-brexit nireland trade rules

UK to scrap post-brexit nireland trade rules

The UK government will introduce legislation to rip up post-Brexit trading rules for Northern Ireland, despite the potential for a trade war with the EU.

London still prefers a negotiated outcome with the European Union to reform the Northern Ireland Protocol whose provisions have become anathema to pro-UK unionists in the divided territory.

But if there is a deal through dialogue, the bill would take effect to override Britain's EU withdrawal treaty - even though the government insists it is not breaking international law.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said Sunday that the protocol had disrupted trade and crippled the power-sharing government, due to unionist objections.

He said that it's right to repair that, and he said that the need to protect a 1998 peace agreement in Northern Ireland had the primacy over the protocol.

He rejected threats from some in the EU that unilateral changes could cause the suspension of the withdrawal treaty's wider trade agreement, leading to sanctions and tariffs against Britain.

The UK can't afford a trade war, at a time when its people are grappling with the worst inflationary crisis in a generation.

The minister said that language is really unhelpful and that it needs to be used in Britain and the EU to work together against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to Ireland's government, patience is thin on the EU side with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's tactics.

Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party, accused Johnson of sacrificing stability in Northern Ireland for his own survival after he narrowly won a Conservative confidence vote last week.

It's dishonourable stuff, by any measure extraordinary stuff, said Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein's all-Ireland president.

In a historic first, Sinn Fein emerged as the biggest party in Northern Ireland elections last month, and accusing the government of destroying, attacking and undermining the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The Democratic Unionist Party argues that the protocol is jeopardising Northern Ireland's status in the UK and is boycotting the local government, leaving it in limbo under the 1998 deal.

The protocol requires checks on goods arriving from England, Scotland and Wales to prevent them from entering the EU's single market via the Republic of Ireland.

The UK bill is expected to scrap most of the checks, making it a green channel for British traders to send goods to Northern Ireland without making any customs declaration to the EU.

The EU would have access to more real-time UK data on the flow of goods, and only businesses intending to trade into the single market via Ireland would have to make declarations.

The EU would need to trust the UK to monitor the flow, and Britain has vowed stiff penalties for any companies trying to abuse the new system.

Since the confidence vote, Johnson has been under pressure from pro-Brexit Tory hardliners to toughen the bill and remove oversight of the protocol by the European Court of Justice.

Lewis said there was no logic to having only one side involved in a bilateral trade arrangement, but the ECJ's invigilation is a red line for the EU to protect its single market.

Britain's opposition Labour party said that the government was not in a position to claim that its handling of the Brexit dispute was lawful.

After Johnson was fined over one of many Downing Street lock-ups, this government seems to be developing a record for lawbreaking, Labour's shadow finance minister Rachel Reeves said.

She said that we were deeply committed to the Good Friday Agreement because we helped bring it to the Good Friday Agreement.