NI politicians voice concern PM will 'double down' on Protocol plans after confidence vote

Tue 7 Jun 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News


Northern Ireland’s politicians fear that Boris Johnson’s scare at last night’s closer-than-expected confidence vote will see him “double down” on planned changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Belfast Telegraph reports Alliance MP Stephen Farry’s fears that Johnson will “double down and play to the hard right gallery – including over the Protocol”.

SDLP MP Claire Hanna said the PM’s approach to Troubles legacy proposals and Brexit were about “trying to manage his wacky backbenchers”.

Legislation pending

With negotiations with the EU over the future implementation of the Protocol having stalled, the government is expected to unveil legislation this Thursday that will allow it override aspects of the Protocol.

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said he hoped that the legislation would not become the “price” of Conservative Party support for Boris Johnson, according to RTE.

Coveney said he believes concerns expressed by the unionist community can be addressed by implementing the Protocol with “a lot of flexibility and pragmatism”.

‘Foolhardy’

He also said that the British government has “not shown the seriousness” to address issues through negotiation and “would effectively be using British domestic law to breach international law”.

Jesse Norman, a former finance minister, said a breach of the Protocol agreed with the EU as part of 2019’s Withdrawal Agreement would be “economically very damaging” and “foolhardy”, reports CNN.

‘Stand by commitments’

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has urged Mr Johnson to use his “restored confidence” to stand by his commitments over changing the Protocol, according to the Newsletter.

“The government has committed to legislate to deal with the protocol. Such commitments are good but ultimately the effect of this legislation is what really matters,” the Lagan Valley MP said.

Divided party

However, the BBC reports that the opposition of more than 40% of his own party to the PM will make life difficult when it comes to votes in parliament.

“Boris Johnson is determined to press on safe in the knowledge he won’t face another confidence vote for at least a year, but it could be a long 12 months,” said BBC NI political editor Enda McClafferty.