This afternoon foreign secretary Liz Truss has said the government intends to bring forward changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol, should EU negotiations continue to stall.
Truss said that the government’s “first priority” was maintaining the Good Friday Agreement “in all its dimensions”.
She said Westminster felt the Agreement remains “under strain” and that they wished to see a resumption of NI’s power-sharing executive as soon as possible.
She put the tensions down to the Protocol and said its “practical problems” are “are clear to see”.
However she confirmed that new Brexit laws would be put to the Commons, stressing that they would be “ consistent with our obligations in international law”.
She also revealed that the government will consult businesses prior to the introduction of any changes to the Protocol.
She denied that the new plans amounted to “scrapping the Protocol” and claimed her aim was to “deliver on the protocol’s objectives,” and that the UK’s “preference is to reach a negotiated outcome with the EU” to solve ongoing issues with the post-Brexit arrangement.
She argued that the government had “worked tirelessly” to attempt a breakthrough in talks.
She said the UK intended to continue dialogue with the EU, but that its refusal to budge on key parts of the deal meant that unilateral changes to the agreement were required.
She summed up her comments by stating to the Commons that the government” remain open to a negotiated solution but that the “urgency of the situation” meant further delays were not possible.
“The UK has clear responsibilities as the sovereign government of Northern Ireland to ensure parity of esteem and the protection of economic rights.
“We are clear that the EU will not be negatively impacted in any way.”
Commenting on plans for legislation, Victoria Hewson, Head of Regulatory Affairs at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “Moving towards a dual regulatory zone and eliminating trade barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a welcome step.
“As Liz Truss rightly noted, and as our briefing paper this week described, the Protocol is not achieving its stated objectives of protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and stability in Northern Ireland.
“Truss is also right to emphasise that a negotiated solution is to be preferred. It is not clear how those who resist unilateral measures, yet call for changes to the Protocol to ensure that formalities are not applied to goods with no risk of moving to the single market, propose to achieve this when the EU refuses to make the necessary changes.