DUP is entirely right to dismiss EU tinkering with Northern Ireland protocol

News Letter editorial of Wednesday July 28 2021:

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 10:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 10:47 am
News Letter editorial

That the European Commission has proposed “flexibilities” around the Northern Ireland Protocol is welcome in one limited respect.

It is a hint of compromise from Brussels, after the earlier minor compromise in agreeing extensions of some grace periods. But it is not even close to enough of a proposed EU change to the Irish Sea border.

The EU proposals include moves to ensure the supply of generic medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but such supposed flexibility is only a reflection of the disastrous implications of Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea border.

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Nothing less than the removal of drug supervision from the EU regulatory orbit is acceptable. It is appalling that the prime minister allowed a situation to arise whereby the British Generic Manufacturers Association is saying that the cost of duplicating regulatory procedures solely for NI means they will be unable to deliver 2,000 medicines after December.

It would be shocking if unionist parties were in any way tolerating such a grievous breach of elementary aspects of health provision within a part of the UK. It was very good last evening therefore to hear the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson make clear that the EU response to the latest UK proposals on the protocol will only “temporarily assuage some concerns” and state that the DUP will only tolerate “lasting change to the current arrangements”.

Graham Gudgin, an economist who is known and respected within influential Tory circles, writes opposite that the new UK position on the protocol is much more radical than it might appear. Good. But the test will come in the autumn, when London has to respond to EU intransigence.

Sammy Wilson is reported to have written to Edwin Poots criticising his department’s implementation of the Irish Sea border. While welcome, this intervention came shortly before Mr Poots was elected leader. The Irish Sea border had by then been implemented for six months.

The protocol seems at last to be facing serious resistance.

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