So far the rhetoric from London on the Northern Ireland Protocol remains good

News Letter editorial of Monday October 13 2021:

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 10:33 am
News Letter editorial

A notable feature of the aftermath of the Brexit vote was the way in which many opponents of a departure from the European Union in effect sided with Brussels in the resulting negotiations about the departure and its shape.

People who strongly believed in the EU were naturally devastated by the result.

But the support of disaffected Remainers gave the EU great succour in its negotiations.

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Above all, the EU backers in the UK wanted to give as much of Northern Ireland as possible to the EU — a price that Brussels had reportedly said was due from Brexit.

This culminated in the Northern Ireland Protocol of late 2019.

The Tory governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson are by no means innocent in this saga but it is at least clear that Lord Frost really does want to do something about the massive damage done by the Irish Sea border.

His speech yesterday included important points, above all the need to safeguard the peace process in the Province.

This is a belated but highly pertinent point, given the way that nationalists and republicans warned of possible violence if there was so much as CCTV at the Irish land border.

Lord Frost said that the Northern Ireland Protocol was not working and that “fundamental change was necessary if it was to survive”.

It was never going to work, given the massive legal concessions that were given to the EU as a result of it.

As Esmond Birnie writes opposite (in the print edition, see link below), the European Court of Justice having jurisdiction over trade regulations in NI is not a minor matter.

So far the rhetoric coming from London is good.

The very fact that the EU today is setting out proposals to deal with the protocol problems shows that the changed UK approach has already paid dividends. It’s response today will shed light on whether a resolution is likely.

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