Rishi Sunak promises to 'fix' Northern Ireland Protocol

Fri 12 Aug 2022
Posted by: IOE&IT STAFF
Trade News

Rishi Sunak fix Northern Ireland Protocol


Rishi Sunak has said he will seek to reopen negotiations with the EU to “fix” the Northern Ireland Protocol if he becomes prime minister.

The Tory leadership contender and former chancellor of the exchequer has pledged to restore Stormont institutions and put Northern Ireland at the centre of his government’s plans if he succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Sunak said that "a negotiation can conclude much faster than we can pass a piece of legislation".  

Protocol bill

The legislation referred to is the Northern Ireland Proto­col Bill that Tory leadership rival Liz Truss has laid before parliament.

The bill was prompted by the government’s dissatisfaction at the pace of negotiations with the EU over changes the UK wants to the protocol that in effect keeps Northern Ireland in the EU Single Market.

The bill would “disapply elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol and provide delegated powers to ministers to make new law in connection with the Northern Ireland Protocol,” according to the government.

EU response

The EU has responded to the bill by launching legal action against the UK, although it has given an extra month for the UK to respond to one set of legal proceedings, as reported by the IOE&IT's Daily Update.

Despite his preference for discussions with the EU, Sunak said the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill would continue to make its way through parliament under his premiership, becoming law if negotiations failed.

‘No friend of ours’ – DUP

The Newsletter reports DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr saying that under Sunak’s leadership, the UK Treasury “has not been our friend” when it comes to tackling the post-Brexit trading arrangements opposed by unionists.

Paisley also highlighted Truss’ role in bringing forward the bill to fix issues arising from the protocol.

‘Sunak delivered on Brexit’

A spokesperson for Sunak told The Independent that the former chancellor had been one of the few ministers who delivered real Brexit reforms.

“From establishing eight freeports to ripping up the EU rulebook when it came to financial services, he delivered a proper plan for reform and change,” they said.

Dutch ports

On trade, the Guardian reports that Truss would like to see more use made of Dutch ports to bypass blockages in France, highlighting her local port of King’s Lynn and stating that she would like it used more often

Sunak said last month that he also would encourage exporters to make use of Dutch and Danish ports as an alternative to French ones, as covered in the IOE&IT's Daily Update.