As Lord Hannan says, UK should annul parts of NI Protocol

The European Union plan to deal with the problems of the Northern Ireland Protocol “fall far short of the fundamental change” that is needed, says Sir Jeffrey Donaldson - and he is right.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 4:29 pm
News Letter editorial

As Jim Allister QC MLA says, the proposals unveilved by European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic “do nothing” to rectify the constitutional dislocation.

Even Doug Beattie, who is carving out a position as a liberal unionist leader, says that the EU suggestions “must only be the start of the discussions”.

In summary, yesterday was partly a good day with regard to the Irish Sea border and partly a bad one.

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To deal with the bad bit first, the fact that the EU is proposing 80% reduction in checks and 50% reduction in some paperwork, and that this leaves constitutional damage to the Union in place underlines the abysmal nature of the protocol.

Although apologists for Boris Johnson are relentless in their efforts to absolve him of blame for what happened in 2019, and fairly point to the then stalemate in Westminster, he did nonchalantly (in tone) agree an internal UK barrier. Either he did not take the time to understand what he was agreeing (he is easily smart enough to grasp it, yet Dominic Cummings says he did not) or he made a calculated decision that jettisoning NI into the EU trade orbit was politically easy.

Appalling though that is, the prime minister’s elevation of Lord Frost has gone a considerable way to making up for the ugly dealings of autumn 2019. The Brexit minister has been notably more robust with the EU than his predecessor Michael Gove. The belated but very welcome toughening up of the DUP position has also changed the climate.

This is the good part of yesterday. No-one talks of rigorous implementation of the protocol. Even the EU has come to see that only substantially reduced implementation is feasible.

In an excellent analysis on page 18, the Lord Hannan, one of the intellectual fathers of Brexit, calls for the UK simply to annul parts of the protocol — as it should.

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Ben Lowry