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UK bill to repeal the Brexit deal with Northern Ireland in Parliament

#bill #repeal #Brexit #deal #Northern #Ireland #Parliament

A UK government bill proposing an overhaul of a post-Brexit deal in Northern Ireland returns to Parliament on Monday despite EU warnings that it is illegal and could spark a trade war.

Brussels threatened legal action after the UK government introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Act earlier this month to unilaterally alter trade terms for the UK province.

A day before its second reading in Parliament – the first opportunity for lawmakers to debate a proposal – the EU ambassador to London again warned of reprisals if it passes.

“We think it’s both illegal and unrealistic. It’s illegal because it violates international law, EU law and UK law,” Joao Vale de Almeida told Sky News on Sunday.

“We’re keen to find practical solutions for implementation, but we can’t start talking when the baseline says that everything we’ve previously agreed is to be set aside,” he added.

The protocol, signed separately from the broader Trade and Cooperation Agreement, provides for controls on goods entering Northern Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales to trace products that could potentially be channeled into the EU via the Republic of Ireland.

This creates a customs border along the Irish Sea, keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs orbit to avoid a politically sensitive hard border between Ireland and EU member Ireland.

But pro-British parties in Northern Ireland say they are driving a wedge between London and Belfast and are refusing to join a power-sharing government in the province until protocol is changed.

– I’m angry –

Unionist parties and the UK government argue the protocol threatens the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violence over British rule in Northern Ireland.

They are calling for the abolition of controls on goods and animal and plant products entering the UK.

“The problem (with) the protocol is the way the EU wants to implement it,” British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis told Sky News on Sunday.

“What we’re doing is fixing the issues within the protocol, how it’s being implemented, so businesses can thrive again.

“I want to see the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive reinstated – Protocol stands in the way of that and therefore it is against the Belfast Good Friday Agreement,” he added.

“We want to do this in agreement with the EU, but for that they need to show some flexibility.”

Plans to unilaterally suspend parts of the protocol have provoked anger in European capitals, particularly Dublin, and led to the EU threatening a full-scale trade war if implemented.

“Unilateral action damages mutual trust,” European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic told reporters in Brussels as the UK introduced the law.

Sefcovic said Brussels will now consider reopening a suspended “infringement case” against Britain, as well as opening new cases.

This would serve to “protect the EU’s internal market from risks that breaching the protocol creates for EU businesses and for the health and safety of EU citizens,” he added.

Following Monday’s debate, the bill still has a few hurdles to clear before it becomes law in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and faces legal challenges.

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#bill #repeal #Brexit #deal #Northern #Ireland #Parliament

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