The government is preparing for a new Brexit clash with parliament and the courts, as ministers tell the EU to agree to major changes to Northern Ireland’s border rules.
Britain wants to renegotiate the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol and Brussels is expected to submit its bid on Wednesday this week.
However, Boris Johnson and his ministers fear that the EU’s plans will not go far enough, as the bloc is so far only willing to make adjustments to current arrangements.
Failure to accept a substantial overhaul is expected to lead Britain to unilaterally tear down the infringing rules, which would result in outrage in Brussels.
Going away from the arrangements by triggering Article 16 of the Protocol may require laws to be passed by Parliament in order to pass the act.
Ministers believe they will face fierce opposition from the House of Lords, while any attempt to tear up the rules without adopting new legislation could result in a Supreme Court legal challenge.
Meanwhile, ministers will tell the EU this week that the removal of the European Court of Justice’s oversight of the protocol is a ‘red line’ for Britain in a move that is likely to increase tensions further.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson wants the EU to accept a major revision of the Northern Ireland Protocol
Lord Frost is expected to tell the EU this week that the removal of the European Court of Justice’s oversight of the protocol is a ‘red line’ for Britain
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has so far refused to renegotiate the protocol. The EU is willing to adapt the schemes, but opposes a major overhaul
The Sunday Telegraph reported that Lord Frost, the government’s Brexit chief, will tell his EU counterpart that European judges should no longer have a say in what is happening in Northern Ireland.
He will give a speech in Portugal on Tuesday in which he will say that the European Commission has been ‘too quick to reject governance as a side issue’ when ‘reality is the opposite’.
The government has repeatedly threatened to trigger Article 16 of the protocol, which would allow Britain to unilaterally drop some of the rules.
The protocol, which was agreed as part of the Brexit agreement, requires that goods traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland be checked in ports to avoid the return of a land border to the Republic.
But it has caused trade disruptions and angered trade unionists, who have called for the rules to be scrapped, claiming they create a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.
Britain wants to renegotiate the terms of the protocol, but the EU is only willing to make minor changes.
Lord Frost will warn in his speech that the EU must go further than lifting its ban on British sausages to resolve the dispute over the protocol.
The Minister in the Cabinet Office will call for ‘substantial’ changes to the post-Brexit agreement he negotiated, including on the role of the European Court of Justice.
His warning comes a day before the EU is expected to draw up plans to resolve protocol issues.
Brussels is likely to suggest that chilled meat could continue to cross the Irish Sea from the UK after the end of the current repayment periods to ease the so-called sausage wars.
But Lord Frost will use the speech in Lisbon to warn that compromises must go much further than this to address issues such as the role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.
‘The EU now needs to show ambition and the will to tackle the fundamental issues at the heart of the protocol,’ it is expected to tell the diplomatic community.
‘The Commission has been too quick to dismiss management as a side issue. The reality is the opposite.
The role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the inability of the British Government to implement the very sensitive arrangements in the Protocol in a reasonable manner have created a deep imbalance in the way the Protocol operates.
Northern Ireland’s protocol has caused trade disruptions and angered trade unionists, who have called for the rules to be scrapped, arguing that they create a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
‘Without new arrangements in this area, the protocol will never get the support it needs to survive.’
Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney questioned whether British ministers “actually want an agreed way forward or a further breakdown in relations”.
‘The EU is seriously working on resolving practical issues with the implementation of the protocol – so the UKG (government) is creating a new’ red line ‘barrier to progress, that they know the EU cannot move forward … are we surprised?’ he tweeted.
A government source threatened that Britain would trigger Article 16 of the protocol if EU proposals were to “peel at the edges”.