LiveDUP demand total eradication of protocol but Michael Gove says government focused on making it 'work effectively'
New DUP leader, Edwin Poots and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, have today signalled two entirely different visions concerning the future of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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LIVE UPDATES: NI Protocol - DUP demand total eradication of protocol but Michael Gove says government focused on making it ‘work effectively’
Last updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2021, 15:58
DUP demand total eradication of protocol but Michael Gove says government focused on making it 'work effectively'
DUP leader Edwin Poots has said the Northern Ireland Protocol must be completely removed.
Speaking after a meeting with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and Michael Gove at Stormont House in Belfast, Mr Poots said the Protocol had a “significant priority” in their conversation, adding his party is “driving that message home over and over and over again”.
“The contacts that I am getting from the business community right across Northern Ireland, right across the community, is all very clear that the Protocol is damaging to business, it’s damaging to consumers because it is adding costs, and therefore the Protocol is something that has to go, it’s not something that the tinkering about has actually helped, it has to go,” he said.
“We discussed other issues of significance coming out of Covid, we discussed issues around the Union and how we should be protecting the Union and enhancing the Union.
“We also discussed the issue around the health service and how we might get some more support to tackle the issue of health waiting lists. It was a very useful meeting.”
Mr. Poots’ comments seem to be completely different to the way in which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, sees the future of the protocol.
Asked about comments by Maros Sefcovic that the EU’s patience was “wearing thin” in the protocol negotiations, Mr, Gove said both the UK and the EU were committed to consolidating the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.
He added: “I have worked with Maros Sefcovic in the past, I know that he is a pragmatic politician who has the interests of the people of Northern Ireland at the heart of everything he is doing.
“There are details that we do need to resolve in order to ensure that the protocol works effectively but I know that the European team are committed to working with the UK Government to resolve those issues.
“On the whole question of the implementation of the protocol we have made it clear that the people of Northern Ireland have to come first, it has to be as lightly as possible on the daily lives and the economic lives of people in Northern Ireland and we are committed to doing everything we can to uphold our obligations under the protocol but also to make sure that the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in all of its dimensions, east/west as well as north/south is upheld and protected.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer says ‘government needs to make more of effort’ to find solution to NI Protocol concerns
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We’ve just seen an unprecedented rebuke from President Biden in relation to the negotiations in relation to Northern Ireland.
“And that comes on the back of months of chaos, of lack of preparedness and, frankly, the Government misleading the public.
“I’ve worked in Northern Ireland. I know what it means for those communities and the way the Government is going about this is undermining the peace process.
“But it’s now also undermining our relationship with America. So we need to make progress on this.”
Speaking in Batley, West Yorkshire, Sir Keir said: “Just as the world is watching, we’re in this situation in Northern Ireland.
“The Government needs to make much more of an effort to settle this, to negotiate and get to a settlement for the people of Northern Ireland and for the world.”
Only a ‘complete’ implementation of NI Protocol will prevent hard border in Ireland
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said the Northern Ireland Protocol is the “only solution” to prevent a hard border with the Republic and must be implemented “completely”.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels ahead of the G7 summit, she said: “We have been debating that for years and we have found the one and only solution.
“We have a treaty on that – the Withdrawal Agreement. It has been signed by both sides. It is important that we now implement the protocol.
“We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement have to be implemented completely.”