Government must end Northern Ireland Protocol conflict

Earlier today, Lord Frost outlined the Government’s intentions to renegotiate the EU Withdrawal Agreement, foregoing the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Green Party strongly criticises such proposals, which would put peace in the devolved nation ‘at risk’.

Signposts pointing to Britain and the EU
Signposts pointing to Britain and the EU
Emma Love

The Green Party has rejected Lord Frost’s proposals to seek a major renegotiation of the Brexit deal he and Boris Johnson signed up to just 18 months ago, and on the basis of which the Government won the 2019 general election.

The European Commission has responded to the proposals, saying that it ‘will not agree to a renegotiation’, emphasising that it is only open to seeking solutions within the framework of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

This comes after Lord Frost’s statement earlier today, in which he said that the UK and the EU “cannot go on as we are” with the current Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements.

As outlined in the proposals, the Government intends to overhaul post-Brexit trading arrangements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost stated that this would ensure that “goods circulate much more freely within the UK customs territory while ensuring that full processes are applied to goods destined for the EU”.

The Green Party has previously condemned the Government’s plans to override the EU Withdrawal Agreement with regards to Northern Ireland.

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party Finance and Economy spokesperson and former MEP, warned that the Government’s intended course of action would put peace in the devolved nation ‘at risk’, as well as damaging the UK’s international reputation.

She has today reiterated these warnings, commenting: “If the Northern Ireland protocol is unworkable then it is down to the people who negotiated it on behalf of the UK – Boris Johnson and his chief negotiator Lord Frost.

“There is a simple solution here which could massively reduce the bureaucracy at the border. 

“The government should open negotiations to agree a comprehensive treaty to guarantee that we will maintain high EU standards of animal and food safety, reducing the need for many checks.

“The Green Party also supports the UK rejoining the customs union, which would go even further to ease the need for border checks at the Irish border as well as reducing the burden of paperwork for UK businesses that export to the EU.

“It’s clear that the Prime Minister never intended to keep the deal he agreed with the EU. He signed up to the protocol as a political convenience to ensure he won an election and gained power for himself. 

“He has repeatedly demonstrated recklessness over the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland in spite of the warnings of former prime ministers and those who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement.

“Trying to change the international treaty we agreed just 18 months ago portrays ‘Global Britain’ as a country that cannot be trusted and diminishes our international reputation that is so vital both in negotiating trade deals and achieving a successful outcome from the Glasgow climate talks.”