In normal politics, London would be backing Edwin Poots in the courts over internal UK checks

News Letter editorial of Saturday February 5 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Politics is a complex process but in a normal governing environment, it is elected political leaders who should have the final say on policy such as Brexit or the Northern Ireland Protocol.

That does not mean politicians have unfettered control of events. They act within parameters of laws,above all constrained by foundational documents enforced by the UK Supreme Court, or in America the US one.

The courts in the UK have become powerful in ways that affect policy making, for example in the use of judicial review to overturn ministerial decisions. The Conservative Party has been rightly concerned about this in recent years, as have other observers such as legal academics.

Northern Ireland is by no means exempt from the use of the courts to constrain policy making. In fact there is a very lively recourse to the courts to challenge ministers.

There have been all sorts of ironies in the legal tussles over the Irish Sea border. The government was last year arguing in defence of its right to impliedly repeal part of the Act of Union, then shelved that defence of the protocol while its own opposition to the measure grew.

Edwin Poots has suspended port checks on the basis of strong legal advice of their illegality and yet now a court has suspended his suspension. Mr Poots was right to cease to facilitate the setting aside of the UK constitutional framework to facilitate an internal UK trade barrier.

In a normal situation, London would be right behind him.

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