The government will reportedly move to scrap large portions of the Northern Ireland Protocol after giving up on Brexit negotiations with the EU.
The Times newspaper reported that officials working for Foreign Secretary Liz Truss have drafted a bill to unilaterally remove the need for checks on all goods shipped from Britain for use in Northern Ireland.
The law would also ensure that businesses in Northern Ireland can ignore EU rules and regulations and remove the power of the European Court of Justice to rule on issues related to the region, the newspaper said.
Importantly, the bill would override the protocol agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019 and would mean that the UK had breached its obligations under the Brexit deal.
The Times said Truss is understood to have wrapped up talks with the EU and has been told the proposed bill could lead to a trade war with the bloc.
It comes after The Sunday Telegraph said Truss is facing cabinet opposition, particularly from Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Communities Secretary Michael Gove, to his plans to break protocol.
Meanwhile, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said he will not bring the DUP back into power-sharing until the issue is resolved, suggesting that the prospects for a quick return of the power-sharing Executive in Stormont are dimming.
MLAs returned to Parliament buildings on Monday and party leaders also held separate meetings with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill said the DUP and the British Government must accept and respect the democratic outcome of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
The prime minister has said he does not plan to get personally involved in the Northern Ireland talks, while Downing Street downplayed the cabinet split over the protocol.
Asked about the government’s position on the protocol and whether there are divisions within the cabinet over proposals to scrap it unilaterally, Johnson’s official spokesman said: “I wouldn’t say that at all.
“I think our preference has always been a negotiated solution to fix the protocol and we have made it clear that we will take further action if no solutions can be found.”
Boris Johnson spokesperson
“No decisions have yet been made on the way forward. The Deputy Prime Minister made the situation clear, it is very serious.”
He insisted that the proposals put forward by the European Commission “do not go far enough to make the protocol sustainable”, adding: “We think (they) would take us backwards from where we are today. So no decisions have been made. But we reserve the right to take action.”
That line echoed earlier comments Monday by Tory MP Michelle Donelan, in which the universities minister said scrapping the protocol was “on the table as one of the options” following Sinn Fein’s election success. of Stormont.
Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Lewis hinted last week that a move against the Northern Ireland Protocol was unlikely to feature in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday.
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