The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today that Parliament could pass legislation this year to repeal some of the rules for post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, sticking to plans that have angered the European Union.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Cowney has expressed frustration with the decision to overturn part of the 2020 Brexit divorce agreement, saying “this is not the way to find viable solutions”.
The legislation, which will unilaterally replace parts of the bilateral agreement – known as the Northern Ireland Protocol – is expected to be sent back to Parliament’s lower house for a second reading.
Johnson says the new legislation will bring about “relatively insignificant” changes to the protocol to facilitate trade within the UK, but the EU has launched legal proceedings against Britain over this.
Asked if the changes could be implemented this year, Johnson told reporters: “Yes, I think we can do it very quickly, if parliament wants it to.”
But Cowney reiterated his criticism that his legislation would simply increase uncertainty in Northern Ireland. “I am deeply disappointed that the British Government is continuing its illegal, unilateral approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol,” it said in a statement.
Yesterday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Tras said London’s priority was to protect the 1998 peace deal that Ireland, the United States and other countries have said could be in jeopardy if parts of the protocol are replaced.
“This legislation will remedy the problems posed by the protocol, ensuring that goods can be transported freely within the UK while protecting the EU single market,” Tra said in a statement yesterday. “A negotiated solution has been and remains what we prefer, but the EU continues to rule out changing the protocol itself; which therefore means that we are obliged to act.”