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UK govt to publish 'lawful' bill on Northern Ireland Protocol

The legislation will be focused on products – except for live animals – which move within the UK’s internal market.

Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns rejected Micheal Martin’s assertions that the EU has and will continue to be flexible in its negotiations
Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns rejected Micheal Martin’s assertions that the EU has and will continue to be flexible in its negotiations
Image: David Parry/PA

THE UK’s NORTHERN Ireland minister has said his government will soon publish legislation that will override the Protocol to reverse “ridiculously excessive” checks on goods moving within the United Kingdom’s internal market.

It comes amid a stand-off between the UK and the EU over the Protocol, an agreement designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland but which instead created fresh checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Britain’s plans to act unilaterally over the Northern Ireland Protocol would be “deeply damaging” and mark a “historic low point”.

The legislation is expected to be produced in the coming days by Boris Johnson’s government.

Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns said the legislation will be published soon.

“We have been very clear with the EU that, if they can broaden the mandate . . . that we are absolutely determined and willing to engage with the EU to reach a negotiated settlement, that is absolutely in the best interest of both sides,” Burns told RTE Morning Ireland.

The reality is that we have now got ridiculously excessive checks on goods that are moving within the United Kingdom’s internal market that will never go near the Irish Republic

“But the vice president has been very clear that he cannot move beyond the mandate of the proposals that he put in place last October and we have been clear with him that those do not go anywhere near far enough in achieving the goals the United Kingdom would like to achieve.

Burns said the UK government “recognises the attractiveness” of the agreement for business in Northern Ireland, but said the restrictions on goods moving within the UK’s internal market needs to be reversed. 

Meanwhile, addressing the European Parliament this morning, Martin said the UK Government’s proposed legislation to override key parts of the Brexit deal would be “to the benefit of absolutely no-one”.

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The taoiseach also said during his visit to Strasbourg that he disagrees with the UK Government’s handling of the protocol and accused it of failing to engage with the EU.

Responding to Martin’s assertions that the EU will be flexible in its negotiations, Burns said: “That is not our lived experience from the conversations that we’ve been having with the EU over very many months.

“They talk of flexibility within the terms, within the constraints of the proposals they tabled last October. We have been clear with them that those proposals do not go as far as they would need to go to respect the integrity of the United Kingdom’s internal market.”

The Conservative minister added that the legislation will be “lawful and appropriate”. 

“It’s a very, very simple proposition here. We’re simply saying the goods moving within our own country – with the exception of live animals, which we can see the need for checks on, obviously – the goods moving within our own country should move freely,” he said.

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