UK unveils radical rewrite of EU pact for N. Ireland

Published May 18, 2022
Critics of the 'Northern Ireland Protocol' say it is disrupting trade and casting the territory adrift from the rest of the UK. —AFP
Critics of the 'Northern Ireland Protocol' say it is disrupting trade and casting the territory adrift from the rest of the UK. —AFP

LONDON: The UK government on Tuesday unveiled a plan to drastically overhaul post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland, arguing the changes are needed to end political paralysis in the divided territory.

But the European Union, defending the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol and the integrity of its vast single market, vowed reprisals if Britain pushes ahead with its unilateral plans.

London said it would introduce legislation reforming the protocol “in the coming weeks” — unless Brussels caves on its refusal to renegotiate the pact.

The protocol was agreed as part of Britain’s Brexit divorce deal with the European Union, recognising Northern Ireland’s status as a fragile, post-conflict territory that shares the UK’s new land border with the European Union.

Its requirement for checks on goods arriving from England, Scotland and Wales has infuriated pro-UK unionists in Northern Ireland.

They claim the protocol is undermining their place within the UK, and are refusing to join a new power-sharing government in Belfast following elections this month.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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