By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 17 May 2022 • 10:19
PM accused of unacceptable and obstructionist tactics in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol.
Credit: Twitter @Ottojizzmark
Johnson travelled to Northern Ireland to try and encourage all the parties to return to Stormont following the recent elections, following the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) refusal unless “decisive action” was taken on post-Brexit trade arrangements.
Boris Johnson was at Hillsborough Castle to encourage the parties to re-form Northern Ireland’s institutions after the assembly election.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has withheld its support until the government takes “decisive action” on post-Brexit trade arrangements.
Johnson has said a “legislative solution” was needed to resolve the issue.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC that: “We would love this to be done in a consensual way with our friends and partners, ironing out the problems, stopping some of these barriers east-west,” Mr Johnson said about the protocol after meeting Stormont’s five main parties.
“But to get that done, to have the insurance we need, we need to proceed with a legislative solution at the same time.
“We don’t want to scrap it (the protocol), but we think it can be fixed.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald, whose party were the first to meet the prime minister, accused Johnson of unacceptable and obstructionist tactics in relation to the protocol.
She added that the government was simply trying to placate the DUP and that the government had no answers, and criticised Johnson for providing “no straight answers” during a “very tough meeting”,
She continued, saying: “The British government is in a game of brinkmanship with the European institutions, indulging a section of political unionism which believes it can frustrate and hold society to ransom.”.
According to official sources, 53 of the 90 members elected are in favour of retaining the protocol, a clear majority.
But the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We cannot have power-sharing unless there is a consensus. That consensus doesn’t exist.”
Johnson, who was booed and jeered on his arrival at Hillsborough, said that he had appealed to the DUP to return to Stormont. He added: I said to the DUP in particular we want to see you back in the executive, we want to see you nominating, we want to see a Speaker in the assembly.”
Despite negotiating and signing the deal himself, Mr Johnson wrote in the Belfast Telegraph, that the protocol was out of date and did not reflect the reality of a post-Covid era with a European war and a cost of living crisis.
Striking a more conciliatory tone after a weekend of threats and after being accused of being obstructionist, he said that he was open to dialogue but warned the UK would have to act if the EU did not change its position.
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, had said earlier here were solutions to “many of the issues that are being raised particularly from the unionists and the business communities” about the protocol.
But he added: “This is not a time for unilateral action, announcing legislation which would essentially breach international law, undermine an international treaty and create a lot of unnecessary tensions between Brussels and London.”
That view is echoed by the US, with Congressman Bill Keating, Chair of the House subcommittee on Europe, said the government’s action on the protocol had been “a grave concern” in the US and it “undercuts the Good Friday Agreement”.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “You don’t get round international agreements you were party to… by undercutting it with domestic unilateral legislation.”
Whilst the EU has acknowledged that the protocol has caused difficulties and has put forward proposals, the UK has rejected these, claiming it will make the situation worse.
With accusations that the PM has been accused of unacceptable and obstructionist tactics in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol, there are fears that the UK will act unilaterally, sparking a trade war.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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