McDonald says Lewis is ‘talking through his hat’ on Brexit protocol | breaking

Britain will “undoubtedly” break international law by introducing legislation to unilaterally change the protocol governing trade in Northern Ireland, the president of Sinn Féin has said.

Mary Lou McDonald said that Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was “speaking through his hat” when he stated that the legislation would be “legal” and “correct”.

Britain has been threatening for months to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol, a trade deal for the region that was struck by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to secure a Brexit divorce and a broader trade deal between Brussels. and London.

London says implementation of the protocol has damaged trade within the UK and threatens political stability in Northern Ireland.

Unionists strongly oppose the protocol, claiming it has undermined the region’s place in the UK. The DUP has blocked the formation of a new power-sharing government in Stormont following last month’s Assembly election in protest at the protocol.

But the Sinn Féin president said there were mechanisms to improve the implementation of the protocol involving Dublin and Brussels.

“There is a will here, there is a willingness to engage on the part of the European Commission, but the British government has refused to engage,” he told Sky News.

“He has not been constructive, he has pursued a destructive path and now he is proposing to introduce legislation that will undoubtedly violate international law.”

commercial threats

The new legislation is designed to simplify the rules, but has drawn strong criticism in Brussels and Washington, where many see it as an incendiary measure that violates an international treaty.

Asked if the new legislation would break the law, Mr Lewis told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge Sunday programme: “The legislation we will introduce tomorrow is within the law.

“What we are going to do is lawful and correct. We will be exposing our legal position in this regard. People will see that what we are proposing solves the key problems within the protocol that are not working.”

Lewis accused the EU of being “phony” by offering flexibilities in the protocol.

He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “What they have been saying constantly in the media and been reported to say is that they are offering flexibilities. Well, they are not.

“What the EU offers is some flexibility based on a fully implemented protocol. That would actually be worse than the situation we have today.”

He added: “So I think they have been disingenuous in suggesting that they are being flexible when, in fact, they have not shown the flexibility that is required to solve these problems for the people of Northern Ireland.”

Good Friday Agreement

The protocol allowed Britain to leave the EU’s single market and customs union without re-imposing border controls between the Republic and the North, vital to the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

By reaching such an agreement, he effectively agreed to a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The Times newspaper reported last week that the legislation had undergone “substantial redrafting and redrafting” after Johnson, severely weakened by a narrow victory in a confidence vote, came under pressure from back-Brexit lawmakers. to tighten the terms.

However, Johnson will need to secure support from all wings of the party for the legislation to pass parliament. Four in 10 of his lawmakers voted to get rid of Johnson in the confidence vote, and some have already raised concerns about the bill.

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