Foreign Minister Simon Cowan has described reports that the United Kingdom will seek to repeal elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol through forthcoming legislation.
Cowney was responding to a report in the Financial Times this week that British legislation would remove the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement, including state aid and a new customs arrangement for Northern Ireland.
The UK government said in a statement tonight that it was working with the European Union to address the so-called “significant issues” surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Without making a clear reference to the Financial Times report and stating what the remaining issues are, the statement does not address those issues “… as a responsible government, we consider the options of a fall in the event that this cannot be achieved. Ensure that the communities in Northern Ireland are protected.”
The Financial Times report does not contain senior government sources, and one source assumes that it is part of raising the UK’s “voice” as future relationship negotiations enter a critical phase.
Officials said they expected the European Commission to seek an explanation for the Brexit task force report.
Citing three Whitehall sources, the report claims that sections of the forthcoming Domestic Market Bill reduce key provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
This includes the possibility of tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, and the possibility of EU State Aid law for UK subsidized companies remaining in the UK. There are significant affiliates in Northern Ireland.
The report claims that the clauses in the domestic market and financial bills will urge UK courts to follow the new UK law instead of the EU agreement and weaken the protocol’s ability to infiltrate UK state aid policy.
The newspaper quoted David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, as acknowledging the power of the new legislation, saying: “Despite progress, the decision to take the nuclear option to rewrite the withdrawal agreement has personally led. Talks about implementing Irish protocol. “
Response to the report was rapid.
Michelle O’Neill, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister and vice president of Sinn Fin, said on social media: “As the Brexit talks between the European Union and the British government enter the eighth round in London this week, any kind of threat will return and the Irish protocol will be a fraudulent fraud. [Good Friday Agreement]. “
Foreign Minister Simon Cowney also responded on Twitter: “It would be an unwise way to proceed.”
SDLP leader Colm Eastwood said: “If true, this would lead to a tight border in Ireland and undermine decades of progress.
How can any country reach an agreement with Britain to break an international agreement?
The report comes in the wake of the British Prime Minister’s campaign statement that a free trade agreement is not possible without an agreement between the European Union and the UK before the EU summit on October 15. We both have to accept that and move on. “
“We will have a trade arrangement with the European Union like Australia,” Johnson said.
As we said from the beginning, I want to make it clear that it will be a positive outcome for the UK.
As a government, we are preparing for it at our borders and ports.
We have full control over our rules, regulations and fishing waters.
We will have the freedom to do business with all the countries of the world.
As a result, we will prosper strongly.
British ministers sometimes refer to the so-called “Australian” style of free trade as the result of a “no deal”, with the European Union and the UK trading on WTO terms.
Johnson said: “Even at this last stage, I would be happy if the EU were willing to reconsider and accept their current position.
But we cannot compromise on the basics of what it means to be a free country to achieve that.
EU-UK future talks on fisheries, state aid, level playground, police and judicial cooperation, and how the two sides will resolve disputes in the future have been stalled for months.
The Prime Minister did not mention the Northern Ireland Protocol in his statement.
The two teams meet in London on Tuesday for the next round of talks.
Michael Barnier, the European Union’s chief contractor, has set October 31 as the deadline for the deal.