Johnson prepares legislation to override NI Protocol as he braces for result of confidence vote

Mon 6 Jun 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

ni protocol

The government is set to publish its much-anticipated new legislation that would enable it to override all or parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol this week, as prime minister Boris Johnson faces a vote of confidence from his party’s MPs tonight (6 June).

With the threshold for the Conservative Party vote having been reached and announced this morning, the PM is looking to assure MPs he is delivering on major policy areas.

Salvage job

The Telegraph reports that Johnson and foreign secretary Liz Truss are expected to describe the legislation as necessary to salvage the Good Friday Agreement.

Truss has said the planned bill “will ensure goods moving and staying in the UK are freed of unnecessary bureaucracy”.

The South West Norfolk MP has set out details of the expected legislation, which would propose separate “green” and “red” lanes for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with those destined to stay within the UK freed from EU-level checks, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

However, Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, has said that UK legislation to override the agreement risked a trade war as the EU will respond with “all measures at its disposal”.

‘Draw a line’

Ahead of the no confidence vote this evening, the PM has written to his MPs appealing to them to “draw a line under the issues our opponents want us to talk about” and focus on “what really matters” to voters, reports the BBC.

His three-page plea for support claims that “we resolved the long Brexit crisis and created a new a friendly relationship with the European Union”.

He continues that he will be setting out ways to “take advantage of our new freedoms, cut costs and drive growth”.

Lack of pragmatism

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has said the “weakness” of the UK’s position shaped the negotiations for the Protocol back in 2019 but blamed a lack of pragmatism in the EU’s approach for the current difficulties, reports the Guardian.

Introducing a report by the thinktank Policy Exchange, Frost said that the Irish government’s focus on the “all-island” economy had become a political tool, when the “economy reality” is that trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is minimal.

The report claims that, despite the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998, there was little integration between Northern Ireland and the Republic and that they remained “two distinct economies”, reports the Irish Times.

Protect supply chains

Business group Logistics UK has reiterated its call for the UK government to make the Protocol work effectively to protect the country’s supply chain and the livelihoods of those that it supports. 

NI policy manager Seamus Leheny called on the UK and EU to agree mitigations on the NI Protocol and protect trading relationships for the benefit of businesses and consumers on both sides of the Irish Sea.