The UK is to scrap a number of elements of the post-Brexit agreement it had previously agreed with the EU over Northern Ireland.
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary within Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party government, has announced that she will soon be tabling legislation which would see a number of elements of the Northern Ireland protocol scrapped.
Ostensibly designed to keep the peace in the ethnic conflict-prone region, the protocol gave the European Union certain powers in the region over tax, customs and other regulations for the purposes of preventing a “hard border” from being installed on the island of Ireland. Far from ensuring stability on the island of Irelannd, critics say splitting off part of the United Kingdom and giving the European Union power over the home nation is actually increasing unrest.
According to a report by The Guardian, the UK now believes that the agreement is undermining the “east-west relationship” between Britain and the region which is shared between pro-UK Unionists and Pro-Irish Nationalists, the latter of which are more aligned with the Irish Republic, an independent state which is still a member of the EU.
This, Truss argued, not only poses economic problems but also threatens to throw the six-county area back into sectarian conflict.
“The Northern Ireland protocol does not have the support necessary in one part of the community in Northern Ireland,” Liz Truss said while announcing the plan to unilaterally scrap aspects of the protocol.
“…practical problems have contributed to the sense that the east-west relationship has been undermined,” she continued. “Without resolving these and other issues we will not be able to… preserve the hard-won progress sustained by the Belfast-Good Friday [peace] agreement.”
Truss then clarified that the government’s desire was for the UK and EU to come to an agreement which would solve the problems with the bilateral arrangement, but if this was not reached, they would use the forthcoming legislation to solve any existing issue on its own terms.
Boris: I Will Do Something About EU Overreach In Northern Ireland, Maybe https://t.co/FwdEoj2Y8Z
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 17, 2022
Tuesday’s announcement seems to make good on a promise from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do something about the controversial protocol, which has earned the ire of some Pro-British Unionists living in the region.
However, while Truss has claimed that the scrapping of parts of the agreement is necessary for maintaining peace, many Pro-Ireland Republicans have expressed anger over any unilateral action.
One politician who has openly denounced the move is Mary Lou McDonald, the president of Irish Nationalist party Sinn Féin, which only recently won Northern Ireland’s regional elections earlier this month.
“The British government announces its intention to legislate to break the law,” McDonald wrote in a social media post online — referencing accusations that such unilateral action would break international law — before saying that such a move is the “stuff of a Rogue State”.
Meanwhile, Pro-British Democratic Unionist Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed the move, saying that the removal of an “Irish Sea border” would go some way towards protecting “Northern Ireland’s place in the UK single market”.
One party however that is certainly not happy with this announcement is the European Union, with Commission VP Maroš Šefčovič issuing a statement threatening undefined action should Britain move ahead with scrapping certain parts of the protocol.
“Unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement are not acceptable,” a statement by the Eurocrat published on the commission’s website read.
“Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the Protocol as announced today by the UK government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal,” the statement continued, with the official also emphasising that the EU was willing to “find joint solutions” to any issues with the protocol.