HM Treasury 'fears proposed Northern Ireland bill could provoke EU trade war', FT reports

Thu 28 Apr 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

ni protocol

HM Treasury officials fear threats to introduce legislation to suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol could provoke the EU into starting a trade war, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The prime minister has confirmed he is prepared to legislate to allow ministers to revoke parts of the protocol, which keeps Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods. 

Senior officials told the FT that the move has worried the Treasury, which fears the proposed Northern Ireland bill could lead to EU retaliatory measures.

Bill next month?

Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Liz Truss are believed to have given the green light in principle for plans to submit the Northern Ireland bill at the start of next month’s parliamentary session.

It would give ministers powers to switch off border checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Unionist protests

In Northern Ireland, unionists are stepping up protests against the protocol, which they oppose.

Loyalist campaigner Jamie Bryson has launched High Court proceedings against Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill, the Newsletter reports.

He claims the former deputy first minister unlawfully blocked a paper on post-Brexit Irish Sea border checks from the agenda at a Stormont Executive meeting.

NI shipping costs up

Also in the Newsletter Tory MP Greg Smith told the Commons that the cost of shipping from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is up 27% and that traders are required to re-route goods as a result of the protocol.

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has stepped up his support for triggering Article 16 to suspend parts of the Protocol.

Politics Home reports Frost’s claims that Boris Johnson didn’t trigger it before Christmas because of the surge in Covid cases and he urges the government to do so now.

It was reported at the time that chancellor Rishi Sunak warned that risking a trade war with Brussels was unwise when supply chains were strained by the pandemic and post-Brexit labour shortages.

The Daily Telegraph also reports Frost’s speech at the Policy Exchange think tank where he said his successor Liz Truss’ approach of using “warm” words had failed to get results and denied that triggering Article 16 would break international law.