The Government believes Tory rebels in the House of Lords will do everything in their power to block plans to unilaterally overrule parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Foreign Secretary announced new legislation in the House of Commons yesterday after months of deadlock in talks with the EU.
She said that while she still wanted to find a negotiated solution to the issues caused by the Protocol, the UK was ready to take action If necessary.
Unionists have complained the international treaty is causing frictions to trade within the United Kingdom, with bureaucratic customs checks required on goods crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland.
Ms Truss said her legislation would propose separate “green” and “red” lanes for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, drawing a line between those destined to stay within the UK and those heading to the Republic of Ireland and beyond.
It would include measures to protect the EU single market by implementing “robust penalties” for those who “seek to abuse the new system”.
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A number of Tory MPs also spoke out against the plans yesterday, urging the Government to recommit to negotiating with Brussels.
Ms Truss told the Commons the legislation would protect the interests of the UK and the EU.
“This respects Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, in its customs territory, and protects the UK internal market,” she said.
“At the same time it ensures that goods destined for the EU undergo the full checks and controls applied under EU law.”
She insisted the proposals to reform the deal were “consistent with our obligations in international law”, and said the move was “not about scrapping the protocol”, but delivering on its objectives.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted problems with the protocol must be addressed and that the action would only be taken if no agreement with the EU could be struck.
He said yesterday: “What that actually involves is getting rid of some relatively minor barriers to trade.
“I think there are good, common sense, pragmatic solutions. We need to work with our EU friends to achieve that.”