UK threatening to unilaterally scrap part of Northern Ireland protocol, sparking fears of trade war
Britain is set to propose plans that would allow ministers to unilaterally scrap part of the Brexit deals, despite warnings from Brussels that such unilateral action would represent a breach of international law.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address Northern Ireland’s political leaders on Tuesday to set out the government’s new plans to defy parts of the Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol to break the Stormont deadlock caused by disagreements over post-Brexit trading arrangements.
In an editorial in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said details about the new plan would be released “in the coming days”, despite warnings of a trade war with the European Union (EU).
Johnson said the protocol had unintended consequences for his country, adding that London will need to act if the EU doesn’t change its stance.
Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has warned that Britain will “force the EU to respond” if Johnson attempts to override the protocol.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner news agency on Sunday, Coveney warned of “consequences” if the British government took action in breach of its obligations under international law.
“In my view, should they choose to unilaterally break international law and set aside elements of the protocol, it will cause more problems than it will solve, which is why we’ve been so direct that it shouldn’t happen. I've asked them to engage in a professional way,” Coveney said.
“This idea they didn’t know how the protocol would work is nonsense. We all knew exactly what we were signing up for,” Coveney said, adding that the British needed to “think of the consequences of their actions.”
The EU has said it is willing to set aside around 80 percent of the checks on goods entering the North from Britain if it can be proved they are consumed there.
“The British response has been, 'it's not enough, we’re going to break international law and not respect the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland’,” Coveney said.