NI Protocol: James Cleverly gives an update on talks with EU
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Peers have warned they will block the Prime Minister’s attempts to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Any delay to Mr Johnson’s Bill risks prolonging a bitter row with the EU.
Legislation is set to be brought before Parliament early next week outlining steps to ease frictions caused by the mechanism.
Ministers have accused the EU of undermining trade within the United Kingdom by being heavy-handed with the implementation of customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain to the province.
The Government has said the legislation will act as a safety net, giving them the power to unilaterally take action to suspend elements of the Protocol if Brussels fails to compromise in negotiations.
Talks between London and Brussels have been taking place since last October, with no breakthrough so far.
Former Conservative chancellor and vehement critic of Brexit, Lord Ken Clarke, said the Bill would be “seriously challenged” in the Lords.
Plotting to undermine Mr Johnson’s efforts, he said: “I expect to find a very large majority of the House of Lords will hold it up for a considerable time.”
The upper chamber of Parliament was one of the biggest obstacles the Government faced during withdrawal negotiations in 2019.
Bitter Remainers repeatedly attempted to thwart legislation to scupper Government efforts to leave the EU.
No10 insiders have shrugged off the latest warnings from peers, telling Express.co.uk that opposition in Parliament was inevitable.
However, ministers are determined to plough ahead with the plans to prove their commitment to protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom.
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As well as in the Lords, the Government is bracing for a battle with Labour MPs and some of its more pro-EU backbenchers.
Yesterday Sir Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of taking a “wrecking ball” to relationships with Ireland and the EU by vowing to push through the legislation.
He said: said: “As someone who cares deeply about the relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom, I’m concerned about the comments that have been made.
“Of course there are challenges with the protocol, but I think that we have faced much greater challenges than that in our shared history and I think we can deal with the remaining issues.
“We’ve faced bigger problems than this. With good faith, statecraft and trust around the negotiating table, which is what a Labour government would bring, these problems can be overcome.
“But a Prime Minister without those attributes taking a wrecking ball to the relationship is not going to help anybody.
“Trust is very important in all of this and this Prime Minister does not have the trust, or I fear he doesn’t have the trust, to negotiate in the way that I actually think would lead to a solution to the problems.”
The party says that only a negotiated solution with the input of the EU is acceptable.
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