House of Lords may reject Protocol legislation, warns peer

A former top diplomat has warned the Government that the House of Lords may reject a bill attempting to unilaterally make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

By PA Reporter
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 11:49 am

Independent crossbencher Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, who was previously the Foreign Office’s permanent under secretary, last night told peers in the House of Lords: “I would like people to believe that, if they conclude a deal with us, then that deal is likely to stick. That makes it easier to conclude a deal.

“I would like people to think it unthinkable that we would break a treaty commitment and start a trade war.

“I think this House still champions the rule of law. I think we showed that over the Internal Markets Bill. I think, if we have to, we will show it again in connection with a Brexit bill.”

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Lord Kerr of Kinlochard has warned that the House of Lords may reject a bill attempting to unilaterally make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol

In November, the Government suffered the largest defeat in the House of Lords this century on parts of the Internal Market Bill that peers warned would break international law.

Lord Owen, founder of the SDP and former foreign secretary, argued it was “inconceivable” legislation to change the protocol should be presented to Parliament before a serious attempt at mediation.

He said: “There is no way I believe that this country will accept abandoning a treaty by an act of law without first a serious attempt at arbitration.

“It is in my view inconceivable that this legislation should be presented to this House without a very serious attempt at achieving international arbitration.”

Defending the Government’s stance on the protocol, Conservative peer and former MEP Lord Hannan of Kingsclere argued it was a “proportionate and measured” attempt to resolve issues in Northern Ireland.

He added: “The real threat is this rather lamentable tendency in Brussels still to think of the United Kingdom as a renegade province that needs to be brought to heel rather than a strategic ally.”

Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown told the House of Lords that parties supporting the Northern Ireland Protocol should “hang their heads in shame”.

The DUP peer told the upper chamber that the protocol is “destroying business links between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

He added: “Those parties who support the continuing of the situation ought to hang their heads in shame.

“Some take their stance because of the undying loyalty and allegiance to the European Union, irrespective of the democratic vote across the United Kingdom to leave it, whilst others do so because of the an anti-Unionist stance, promoting rather an all-Ireland economy to the detriment of the prosperity of the people and also aiming at creating a united Ireland by stealth.”

Lord McCrea, who was previously an MP, told peers major trading companies have claimed it takes 20 people eight hours to load a lorry of goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, due to the level of paperwork required.

He said: “No one can deny that the protocol is harming the wealth and prosperity of our people