Northern Ireland Protocol: 'We'll look for alternatives' says Truss
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Previously, lorries were allowed to deliver goods without having paperwork or checks when they crossed the border from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Before Brexit this was easy to maintain as both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were part of the EU and followed the same EU trade rules, which meant checks were not needed. However when the UK left the EU problems emerged as the bloc have strict food rules and require border checks when certain goods arrived from non-EU countries.
To tackle the problem the UK and EU negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol, in which it was agreed that inspections and document checks would take place between Northern Ireland and Great Britain rather than along the Irish border.
Northern Ireland would continue following EU rules on product standards and checks on goods from Great Britain would take place in Northern Irish ports to ensure they comply with EU laws.
Unionists are deeply critical of the checks as they don’t want Northern Ireland to be treated differently from the rest of the UK.
The agreement, which has disrupted trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has also led to masses of criticism as a trade border has essentially been created in the Irish Sea.
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Dr Bull labelled the situation “ridiculous” and “catastrophic” and insisted the Northern Ireland Protocol had threatened the “integrity of the UK”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the Reform UK Deputy Leader said: “We’ve ended up in this ridiculous situation where the United Kingdom has been carved up.”
“Could you imagine taking a bit of Spain off? It would be untenable. A bit of France?
“Taking Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and putting an artificial border in the Irish Sea, I think is catastrophic.
“The whole point about not creating a hard border on the island of Ireland, yes I get that, and the Good Friday Agreement I get all of that.
“But essentially this Prime Minister has threatened the integrity of the United Kingdom and I think that’s unforgivable.”
The Government insists the Northern Ireland Protocol has represented a huge compromise for the UK, despite having signed up to the agreement in 2019, and believe the EU are applying it too rigidly.
Lead Brexit negotiator Liz Truss said she would trigger Article 16 if the UK failed to secure changes.
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Article 16 allows either side to suspend any part of the agreement if it causes “economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.
However it would prompt the EU to impose tariffs on trade between the two sides, and the bloc has warned that such a move would “lead to instability and unpredictability”.
Elsewhere, Dr Bull insisted that the UK had not taken advantage of the Brexit vote.
Despite noting the vaccine rollout at the beginning of 2021 as a notable success of Brexit, he said: “I don’t think we have taken advantage of the extraordinary vote that we had.
“I maintain to this day it was still the right decision.
“The largest-ever democratic vote in the United Kingdom I think, and it was extraordinary.
“The whole point about it was that we became a free and self-governing country where we no longer are held ransom by this ridiculous monolith that is the European Union and that we can decide the rules and the laws that are good for Britain.
“And I don’t think we have done that.”
He added: “I think the current Government has just doubled down on where the European Union is.
“We’re now a high tax, high regulation, low growth economy and you can see that with the fact we’ve got inflation rising, national insurance coming in, our tax bills coming up.
“This isn’t what people voted for.”
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