UK confident its plan for Northern Ireland does not breach international law

A sign is seen with a message against Brexit border controls in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol at the port of Larne, Northern Ireland February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) – Britain is confident it will not break international law by considering introducing legislation to unilaterally address problems caused by post-Brexit deals that cover trade with Europe. Northern Ireland, a minister said on Thursday.

The legislation is expected to go through Parliament soon as a dispute over how to deal with the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs post-Brexit trade and was agreed as part of Britain’s deal to leave the European Union, drags on.

“The government is confident that our actions are legal under international law and in accordance with a long-standing convention we do not establish internal legal deliberations,” Europe Minister James Cleverly told parliament.

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The protocol aims to keep the British province, which borders Ireland, an EU member, both in the customs territory of the UK and in the EU’s single goods market.

Britain has criticized the implementation of trade rules under the protocol, which has seen some UK businesses unable to send certain goods to Northern Ireland.

The government says the situation risks undermining the 1998 Good Friday peace accord for the province, though others, like the EU and some U.S. politicians, say the protocol is key to protecting that accord. Read more

Last month, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would introduce legislation to make changes to the protocol. She said the legislation would involve a dual regulatory regime designed to ensure that goods moving to and staying in Northern Ireland would be free from unnecessary administrative burdens. Read more

“We will give more details of our legal position when we present the bill,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Thursday, adding that the bill was in the final stages of drafting.

“The relevant committee met and agreed to this yesterday.”

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Reporting by William James and Elizabeth Piper; written by Alistair Smout; Editing by Kate Holton

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