Foreign secretary Liz Truss has insisted the UK is not looking to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol, but is looking to fix the agreement which “isn’t working” in wake of the Brexit vote.
The cabinet member told Sky News this morning there needed to be “sensible pragmatic changes” to it, with a stalemate over trade with the European Union looming over UK-Ireland relations. ]
This comes after there was fury in European capitals as Britain was accused of ripping up the agreement unilaterally in wake of Brexit. The EU has threatened a trade war over the issue.
“The reality is it isn’t working on the ground. It has created political instability in Northern Ireland. We haven’t seen the executive form since February. So we do need to make these changes.
When asked if it required minor tweaks or if it was of grave concern, Truss admitted the “situation in Northern Ireland is of grave concern” because the Good Friday Agreement was at risk.
The agreement is being “undermined by the fact that the Northern Ireland protocol isn’t working.”
“It’s not scrapping the protocol as some people have claimed it’s fixing the protocol, making it better make it work better. And that works for everybody. That’s the solution we want to get to.”
“We’re not changing everything in the protocol through our legislation, we are protecting the north south relationship with protecting the single electricity market, but there are some very serious problems about East West trade, which we need to fix.”
“We proposed a solution sharing commercial data having proper enforcement so creating a green lane into Northern Ireland that helps protect the EU single market, which is what they’re concerned of, and also helps protect trade into Northern Ireland so we can get a pragmatic solution. I want the EU to come to the negotiating table so we can agree that together.
“But if that doesn’t happen, we do need to move ahead delivering this solution for the people of Northern Ireland.”