The situation surrounding the Northern Ireland protocol is now very serious – Johnson

The situation around the Northern Ireland protocol is “now very serious”, said the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson spoke to Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Tuesday about post-Brexit arrangements.

In an account of the call by Downing Street, the two leaders agreed on the vital importance of restoring devolved institutions in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

The Prime Minister reportedly made it clear that the situation regarding the protocol was now very serious.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the British government will take action to protect peace and political stability in Northern Ireland if no solution can be found

Downing Street Spokesperson

He also said that the balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement was compromised and that the recent elections had further demonstrated that the protocol was unsustainable in its current form.

“Despite repeated efforts by the UK government over many months to correct the protocol, including the sections related to the movement of goods and governance, the European Commission has failed to take the necessary steps to help deal with the disruptions. economic and political on the ground,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK Government would take action to protect peace and political stability in Northern Ireland if no solution could be found.”

However, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar warned the British government against any unilateral action on the protocol.

Mr Varadkar told RTE: “We cannot have unilateral action from the UK. It’s an international agreement, they have to honor their obligations. I was in the Wirral with Boris Johnson. I know what he accepted.

“People in Northern Ireland have voted and they have not voted for a majority of MPs who want the protocol scrapped. So the UK government needs to take that into account. It’s a democracy and an election just happened. produce.

“The UK Prime Minister and Secretary of State need to be wise about this, if they aren’t already.”

An Irish government spokesperson said the Taoiseach had urged Mr Johnson “to engage in intensified discussions between the EU and the UK to resolve issues relating to the implementation of the protocol”.

The spokesperson added: “He has made clear his serious concerns that any unilateral action at this time would destabilize Northern Ireland and erode trust.

The Taoiseach stressed to the Prime Minister that the way forward should be through continued engagement with a view to reaching agreed solutions between the EU and the UK that address practical issues related to the implementation of the protocol.

Irish government spokesperson

“The Taoiseach stressed that the EU had engaged constructively in the protocol discussions, addressing the issue of medicines and proposing a substantial package of flexibilities and mitigations last October, including on arrangements customs and SPS.

“The Taoiseach stressed to the Prime Minister that the way forward should be through a continued commitment to reach agreed solutions between the EU and the UK that address practical issues relating to the implementation of the protocol. “

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said renegotiation of the protocol was “not an option” and that unilateral action by the UK would make it “more difficult “work on possible solutions.

“The EU has been open to working together with the UK on the implementation of the Protocol to bring legal certainty and long-term predictability to people and businesses in Northern Ireland,” said he declared.

“The EU remains open to such discussions. Only joint solutions will work. Unilateral action by the UK would only make our work on possible solutions more difficult.

“The Protocol, as the cornerstone of the Withdrawal Agreement, is an international agreement. Its renegotiation is not an option. The European Union is united in this position.

The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach also discussed the need to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland after the Assembly elections.

The Irish government spokesman said the two leaders agreed on the importance of “having a strong and functioning executive in place to serve the people of Northern Ireland”.

He added: “The Taoiseach stressed the importance of both governments working together to support the full functioning of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mr Johnson has also had calls with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who reiterated his position that there must be action on protocol before his party enters government.

Speaking after the call, Sir Jeffrey said he was “not setting a deadline” for the UK government to take action on the protocol.

When asked if legislation should be introduced to satisfy elements of the protocol “within weeks”, the DUP leader replied: “I am not setting a timeframe for that; what I am saying absolutely clearly (is that) it is decisive action that we need, and we need it to happen quickly.

On the earliest point at which the DUP could return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland, he said: “I don’t measure that by timelines; I measure it by results.

He said he had contacted the EU and hoped to meet the EU ambassador to “get an update from them”.

“In the absence of an agreement with the EU, the British government, I believe, must act to protect the political institutions in Northern Ireland; to safeguard the political process. This must be the Prime Minister’s priority,” he told reporters.

“To be honest, I gave the EU months and months and months, we had endless negotiations, but we didn’t get any results, we didn’t get any results, we didn’t We haven’t had decisive action in these negotiations, and that’s what we need.

Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill insisted an executive must be formed now, adding: “The public here cannot be pawns in the UK Government’s game of chicken with the EU.”

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was reportedly close to ditching large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol after she backed out of Brexit talks with the EU.

The Times reported that officials working for Ms Truss had drafted a bill to unilaterally remove the need to screen all goods sent from Britain for use in Northern Ireland.

The law would also ensure that businesses in Northern Ireland can ignore EU rules and regulations and remove the power of the European Court of Justice to rule on matters relating to the region, according to the newspaper.

Importantly, the bill would override the protocol Mr Johnson agreed to in 2019 and mean the UK had defaulted on its obligations under the Brexit deal.

The Times said Ms Truss would have wrapped up talks with the EU and been told the bill could lead to a trade war with the bloc.

It comes after The Sunday Telegraph said Ms Truss was facing opposition from Cabinet, particularly Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Communities Secretary Michael Gove, to her plans to tear up the protocol.

The PA news agency has been told that Ms Truss is set to take further action in the coming weeks if negotiations with the EU continue to stagnate.

But it has been argued that the protocol will not be canceled altogether, with measures instead being considered to alleviate the problems on the ground in Northern Ireland.

No decision has been taken, it was pointed out, but these could include steps to address the difference between VAT, rules and courts in the UK on either side of the Irish Sea.

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