Europe’s main Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic has urged PM Boris Johnson to “get Brexit done” and warned that UK plans to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol are unworkable.
Speaking in London, the European Commission vice-president claimed that Northern Ireland benefitted from a deal that offered “jam on both sides of the bread”, while calling for the EU and UK to get back to the negotiating table.
Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market for goods, offering uninterrupted trade with the bloc, but goods moving from Britain into the region are now subject to new checks and rules.
The UK government has introduced new legislation that will allow it to override aspects of the Protocol, following months of negotiation over its implementation.
Sefcovic repeated his offer to cut Protocol red tape, but said it was “unrealistic and unfair” for London to expect all barriers to be removed on goods travelling to Northern Ireland from Britain, reports the Guardian.
He predicted that, if the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill becomes law, it would “lead to constant uncertainty” as UK ministers would be able to change rules “on a whim”, reports the Evening Standard.
“A dual regulatory regime, where businesses opt for EU or UK regulations would bury them under a mountain of bureaucracy,” he said.
Sefcovic added that for London to unilaterally decide what enters the single market “amounts to a clear violation of international law”, reports ITV.
The EU has revived legal action and initiated fresh proceedings against the UK in response to the Protocol Bill.
Protocol support rising
Support for the Protocol itself is rising, according to new polling from LucidTalk for Queen’s University in Belfast.
The majority (55%) of voters in Northern Ireland view the Protocol as appropriate for managing the impact of Brexit.
The Belfast Telegraph reports findings from the poll showing support for the Protocol is up by 8% from a year ago, with 38% against it.
Other findings were:
- 57% believe the government is unjustified in taking unilateral action to scrap parts of it
- 55% believe that Brussels would be justified in taking retaliatory action if London does act unilaterally
- 65% believe it offers unique opportunities to NI