Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol problems are significant and growing

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Problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol are “significant” and “growing”, the UK government has said. Cabinet office minister Michael Ellis told MPs he’s concerned over how it is operating.

The protocol was agreed by the UK and EU as a way to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. However, in addition to these government concerns, it appears to be the source of tension between Prime minister Boris Johnson and the US. Johnson denied the protocol was even discussed in a recent meeting with US President Joe Biden. But this was at odds with the US position:

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Wasn’t it supposed to be “oven ready”?

Speaking at Cabinet Office questions, Ellis said:

As we set out in our July command paper, the protocol is not meeting its core objectives as it stands. It is causing considerable disruption to lives and livelihoods.

Labour MP Ruth Jones (Newport West) said the EU and the US have:

expressed serious concerns and reservations about the current practical arrangements

and said of the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement with the EU:

The deal may have been ‘oven-ready’, but did someone forget to turn the gas on?

Ellis replied:

The Northern Ireland Executive noted that from January to March, about 20% of all of the European Union’s checks were being conducted in respect of Northern Ireland, even though Northern Ireland’s population is just 0.5% of the EU as a whole.

It’s unacceptable. And I think those are the sort of problems about which she ought to focus.

Unionist opposition

Having supported Brexit, Unionists in the north of Ireland are vehemently opposed to the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol. And this is despite some benefits the north has gained from it:

“Can’t go on forever”

Johnson earlier this week warned that the post-Brexit issues with the north of Ireland “can’t go on forever”. Brexit minister Lord Frost has also argued that the threshold of triggering Article 16 of the protocol, which would effectively tear up parts of the deal he negotiated, has been met.

Featured image via – Pixabay – Alexas_Fotos

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