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Legislation to override Northern Ireland Protocol is within the law, Brandon Lewis insists – as opponents brand move ‘disgraceful’ | UK News


The Northern Ireland minister insists the plan to bypass the Northern Ireland Protocol is within the law – but critics say the move is “disgraceful”.

Brandon Lewis defends proposals as government preparing to announce the law on Monday, despite growing concern about the legality of the move.

A senior Tory MP told Sky News that the bill would include “disregard provisions” related to the Withdrawal Agreement, which “clearly violates international law”.

New law will ‘fix the problems’ with the Northern Ireland Protocol, says Brandon Lewis – according to live updates

Mr Lewis, speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, reiterated the government’s position that Brussels is refusing to be flexible in renegotiating the protocol – which governs Northern Ireland afterBrexit transaction arrangement.

He said the law being laid out in the Commons seeks to “fix the problems” with the way the agreement is implemented.

“What we are going to do is legal and correct,” he said.

But there have been questions about the extent to which top government adviser Sir James Eadie QC has been consulted about the proposed legislation.

Sir James, the first treasury adviser, has revealed he was not asked to give his legal opinion on whether it broke the law.

Mr Lewis said he would “not participate in the internals of government advice”.

But he told Sky News: “The government’s lawyers have been very clear. We are working on the law.”

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Protocol NI ‘violates international law’

He said the attorney general would deliver the government’s legal position on Monday.

Speaking on the same program, Mary Lou McDonald, president of Sinn Fein, said Mr Lewis was “talking through his hat”.

She stressed that the protocol is working and that the government’s plans will lead to “unspeakable economic damage”.

Ms McDonald said: “It is shameful to use northern Ireland as a bargaining chip in their ongoing clash with Europe, all designed to promote ego, leadership ambitions of Boris Johnson or one of his successors”.

Labour’s shadow premier Rachel Reeves told Sky News: “It looks like the government has a plan to circumvent international law.

“This government seems to be developing a record of breaking the law and that is not a record that the Labor Party can support.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol is a compromise between Boris Johnson and the European Union that avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit.

Northern Ireland still follows some EU rules and has checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK, effectively creating an Irish Sea border.

Some argue that the protocol is making it difficult for businesses but others argue that having single access to both the UK and EU markets will benefit them.

Hardliners say it undermines Northern Ireland’s position in the UK and The Democratic Unionists refused to participate in power sharing until the matter was resolved.

The senior Tory MP who spoke to Sky News also claimed the bill would not allow passage, even if the Northern Irish Parliament supported the protocol.

“This is quite a nuclear issue and will become a big focus,” he said. “The Irish government and the Americans will go crazy when this is announced.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Stormont Council is entitled to vote in 2024 on whether to keep or reject the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The MP added: “If the draft Bill overrides the yes vote, it is because the government does not like the outcome of the recent Stormont election.



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