Liz Truss is set to halt threats to trigger Article 16 and suspend the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The foreign secretary has reportedly written to Boris Johnson to call for a series of measures to boost trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, including tax breaks and a new fast lane for goods crossing the Irish Sea.
The Sunday Telegraph reports this would be through a new “unilateral green lane”, which would allow businesses to send goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland with less paperwork.
Negotiations between the UK and EU on altering the implementation of the protocol have dragged on since last summer, with both sides agreeing that there needs to be less checks on goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Johnson’s government has continually threatened Brussels that it is willing to trigger Article 16 and suspend the protocol if it does not agree to re-write the protocol and end almost all checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea.
The foreign secretary now thinks this threat should not be upheld while the UK is trying to co-ordinate its response to the Ukraine war with EU countries.
Truss’ plans to effectively suspend this threat will be met with anger by many Northern Irish unionists and Brexiteer Tories who want to trigger Article 16.
An ally of Truss told the Telegraph: “Liz’s top priority in all of this is defending peace and stability in Northern Ireland and protecting the Union.
“The EU aren’t showing enough pragmatism, so she’s exploring unilateral measures to ease the pressures on the ground. Article 16 remains very much on the table – she is 100 per cent prepared to use it – but it’s right we look at other measures like tax breaks and ‘unilateral green lane’ measures.”