The UK must now amend its flawed legal defence of Northern Ireland Protocol, in light of the prime minister’s admission

News Letter editorial of Saturday June 19 2021:

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 10:27 am
Updated Saturday, 19th June 2021, 10:36 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

There was a remarkable moment in the House of Commons this week involving the prime minister.

Boris Johnson stated clearly that the 1801 Act of Union, which created and sustains the United Kingdom, has not been repealed.

The prime minister’s assurance was most welcome, but also baffling. His government has been arguing in court that this key constitutional document is in fact partially repealed by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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Article 6 of the act enshrines unfettered trade within the UK, a freedom of commerce that you would expect within any nation state.

But Mr Johnson’s Irish Sea border introduced a barrier to such trade that has little known precedent within any other major nation state in the world.

It was when political leaders including Arlene Foster, Jim Allister and Steve Aiken challenged the protocol in court, the UK government made its stunning admission: that the Act of Union had been repealed by implication from the protocol. Yet this week in Westminster Mr Johnson agreed with a statement by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP that the protocol “has not resulted in an implied repeal of Article 6 of the Act of Union which enables Northern Ireland to trade freely with the rest of this United Kingdom”.

Now Mr Johnson’s lawyers must amend their legal defence of the protocol accordingly.

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