The UK’s plan to rip up large parts of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol has been decried as “economic vandalism” by Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin.
Martin today said there were “legitimate issues” around the protocol, but that Boris Johnson’s response would damage Northern Ireland’s economy further.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss introduced legislation last week that will unilaterally change the protocol and remove many of the checks for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
The UK and EU both agree the protocol in its current form is not working and that stringent customs checks are creating economic and political difficulties in Northern Ireland.
However, the EU has said the decision to act without agreement with Brussels is a breach of international law and that legal action is now being pursued.
Martin today told the BBC: “We accept fully that there are legitimate issues around the operation of the protocol and we believe that with serious sustained negotiations between the EU and the UK government those issues could be resolved,” he said.
“It is deeply concerning to industry and businesses in Northern Ireland … in effect it represents a form of economic vandalism on Northern Ireland.
The new bill sets out ambitions for the UK to create a “green lane” to allow goods intended only for Northern Ireland to pass without checks, while products that are being transited into the Republic of Ireland will be put into a “red lane” and require border checks.
It also ends the role of the European Court of Justice as the body responsible for enforcing the protocol, with ambitions to instead create an independent arbiter, and gives powers to UK ministers to unilaterally “fix” problems they identify.