As US senator delegation heads to Northern Ireland, Truss says there is a protocol deal to be done

Thu 26 May 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Foreign secretary Liz Truss says Britain’s “firm preference” is to negotiate a Northern Ireland Protocol deal with Brussels rather than tear it up but warned that it needed substantial renegotiation.

Truss, who has announced to parliament planned legislation that will enable ministers to override parts of the protocol, said “the problems of the protocol are baked into the existing legal text”.

The EU has ruled out renegotiation or changing the mandate of its chief negotiator Maros Sefcovic.

Problems ‘soluble’

The BBC reports that Truss maintained the problems were “soluble” during a visit to firms in County Antrim in NI to discuss here solution of green and red channels for trade at ports.

Her comments came on the eve of the visit to NI by the US delegation, led by Congressman Richard Neal, which has held meeting with the EU, British and Irish governments amid White House concern over Britain’s threat to override the protocol.

Neal will meet with Stormont’s five main parties today, the BBC reports.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has branded the US as “one-sided” in advance of the meeting and Neal has landed himself in hot water by referring to unionists as “planters” – a term dating back to the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th Century and considered derogatory.

'EU and UK to sort'

Following his meetings about the protocol, Neal said: “We believe that based on the conversations that we had in Brussels, in London, this is an issue for the European Union and for the UK government to sift and sort.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly was this morning the first Foreign Office minister to face a select committee hearing on the protocol since the government announced plans to introduce legislation to unilaterally override aspects of the deal, reports Politico.

Politico correspondent Cristina Gallardo, following the proceedings tweeted that Cleverly said the government wants “to move quickly” with the legislation on the protocol.

The earliest date to table the bill is the “first week back from recess”, but ministers want to get it right, Cleverly said.