A day before the UK is to unveil new legislation on Northern Ireland, Irish Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou McDonald said the changes would “undoubtedly” breach international law.
The British government has remained tight-lipped on the details of its plan. But Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told UK broadcaster Sky News the changes would be “lawful and correct”.
Northern Ireland Protocol – a source of contention
The legislation, which is due to come into force on Monday, will affect the existing Northern Ireland Protocol brokered by the EU and the government led by current Prime Minister Boris Johnson after Britain officially left the bloc in 2020. The agreement allows the Republic of Ireland to maintain a de facto open border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. One of the provisions requires checks on goods from England, Scotland and Wales, to prevent them from entering the EU single market. London should scrap most checks.
UK Representative Lewis said changes were needed because the protocol disrupted people’s lives, hampered government institutions and “fundamentally undermined” the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended violence between Irish nationalists and Irish nationalists. British loyalists.
Johnson’s government ‘refused to commit’
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the protocol was working and London could work with Dublin and the EU instead of making unilateral changes.
She also said Boris Johnson’s cabinet ‘refused to commit’.
“He has not been constructive, he has sought a destructive course and is now proposing to introduce legislation which will undoubtedly violate international law,” she told Sky News.
McDonald also accused the British prime minister of using Northern Ireland to bolster his position after facing a vote of confidence on Monday.
The EU has pledged to react strongly if the UK decides to change trade rules.
The latest escalation comes after Sinn Fein secured a historic victory in Northern Ireland last month. For the first time, the Irish Nationalist Party controls a plurality of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, winning 29% of the vote against 21.3% won by its main rival, the loyalist DUP.
dj/kb (Reuters, AFP)