'Despicable!' EU accused of using Northern Ireland as 'battering ram' to 'blackmail' UK

This comes as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss last week began a fresh round of negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol. DUP MP Ian Paisley told Express.co.uk that the Protocol is being used by the EU to punish the UK “for daring to Brexit”. He called the EU’s actions “despicable”, but added that the UK “didn’t negotiate well enough” for the whole country.

The MP also hit out at Prime Minister Boris Johnson for taking a “shortcut” with Northern Ireland in order to get Brexit done, claiming that the UK was not “bullish enough” in negotiations.

The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol since October 2021.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK left the EU but, because Northern Ireland remained within the EU’s single market for goods, a border was effectively created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea.

It has come under fire because of border checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which have resulted in delays, supermarket shortages and increased costs for businesses in Northern Ireland.

Mr Paisley told Express.co.uk: “The EU has acted in a despicable manner.

“It has tried to use a tiny part of this United Kingdom to blackmail and to threaten the UK by claiming that this would be a threat to peace.

“There is no such thing, this is about the economy. It’s not about the peace process.

“And they’ve tried to use that as blackmail that somehow Brexit would affect peace in Northern Ireland.

“I think it insults the intelligence of people in Northern Ireland and of the United Kingdom but unfortunately, the British government failed for those words – and this is why we’re in this mess.

“The government wasn’t bullish enough during the negotiations with Northern Ireland, hence why we got left in this proxy zone of the EU.


“So it’s not increasing our business, it’s simply diverting us from doing trade with other parts of the United Kingdom and forcing us to do trade with the EU instead.”

Speaking about the Brexit negotiations that led to the Protocol, Mr Paisley said: “I think the UK didn’t negotiate well enough for the whole of the UK.

“Boris Johnson wanted to get Brexit done and the shortcut was ‘well that’s a bit of a problem, let’s leave it til later’.

“And he said as much in meetings I had with him.

“He said ‘don’t worry about the Protocol, we’ll deal with it later.’

“Well we’re now in that later phase and it’s really up to the Prime Minister to be focused and to tell his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: ‘sort this problem out now and don’t wait any longer.’

Last week, the MP for North Antrim also called on Liz Truss – who has taken over from Lord Frost at the negotiating table – to “move swiftly” in taking action over the Protocol.

In a statement, the Foreign Secretary said there was “a deal to be done”.

Speaking to the BBC, she added: “We’ve had constructive talks with the EU.

“We’re now going to go into intensive negotiations to work towards a negotiated solution to sort out these very real issues for the people of Northern Ireland.”

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