Negotiators had their chance: it’s now time to trigger Article 16

News Letter editorial dated February 12:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

In an email to Conservative supporters, timed to coincide with her return from Moscow, the foreign secretary Liz Truss pledged yesterday to “stand up for freedom”.

It was a fitting coincidence that after the Russian meeting, she was immediately immersed in negotiations with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It can be dressed up in different ways, but the fact is that the power-brokers in Brussels used Brexit to make a land grab over this part of the UK.

Ever since Boris Johnson and his government agreed to the bloc’s demands, it has refused every attempt to restore Northern Ireland’s place in the British internal market.

The UK has now reportedly expanded on its ‘command paper’ offer and explained how a ‘green channel’ for GB goods might work at our ports, addressing the EU’s concerns about products that do not meet its regulations.

Unfortunately, the protocol was never about a genuine ‘threat’ to Brussels’ single market. It was a crude mechanism to show that Brexit came at a cost and the UK was no longer a member of a privileged club.

With this in mind, the government’s talks with Maros Sefcovic and his team have gone on for far too long. There is scant evidence that the negotiations will eventually repair the damage to Northern Ireland’s place in the Union.

Boris Johnson must finally trigger Article 16 and take action unilaterally, or admit openly that he is the prime minister who irreparably compromised the United Kingdom’s integrity.

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