Boris Johnson must take responsibility for Northern Ireland Protocol row, Labour Party insists

"This is not a time for political posturing or high stakes brinkmanship," says a Shadow Foreign Office minister

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The Prime Minister must take responsibility for the Northern Ireland Protocol, Labour has said.

Shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Doughty said the Government was “trying to convince people its flagship achievement was not a negotiating triumph but a deal so flawed that they cannot abide by it”.

He added: “Either they did not understand their own agreement, they were not upfront about the reality of it or they intended to break it all along. The Prime Minister negotiated this deal, signed it, ran an election campaign on it. He must take responsibility for it and make it work.”

Mr Doughty said that “both the UK Government and the EU need to show willing and good faith”, telling the Commons: “This is not a time for political posturing or high stakes brinkmanship.”

Stephen Doughty asks an urgent question in the House of Commons.
Stephen Doughty asks an urgent question in the House of Commons.

The Labour MP said the opposition wanted to “make Brexit work” and called for a new veterinary agreement with the EU “that would eliminate the vast majority of checks going from Britain to Northern Ireland”.

UK Government proposals to reform Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements are “legal in international law”, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Responding to a question from Labour, Liz Truss said: “It is our responsibility as a Government of the United Kingdom to restore peace, to restore the primacy of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, to get the executive up and running.

“In answer to his question about legality, we are very clear that this is legal in international law and we will be setting out our legal position in due course.”

On a visit to Paddington station, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We need to address the problems with the (Northern Ireland) Protocol.

“What that actually involves is getting rid of some relatively minor barriers to trade.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks on the factory floor with Thales UK Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alex Cresswell and Thales Belfast Managing Director Philip McBride as he visits Thales weapons manufacturer during a visit to Northern Ireland for talks with Stormont parties, in Belfast.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks on the factory floor with Thales UK Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alex Cresswell and Thales Belfast Managing Director Philip McBride as he visits Thales weapons manufacturer during a visit to Northern Ireland for talks with Stormont parties, in Belfast.

“I think there are good, common sense, pragmatic solutions. We need to work with our EU friends to achieve that.”

Liz Truss' new bill, meant to mitigate the Protocol, will propose separate “green” and “red” lanes for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with those destined to stay within the UK freed from EU-level checks.

There will be no crossover between the channels, it is understood, with goods filtering through one or the other, depending on their intended destination.

The legislation is due in the “coming weeks”, before the summer recess.

It had been heavily tipped to have been introduced to Parliament on Tuesday.

Ms Truss told the Commons the Bill will put in place the necessary measures to “lessen the burden on east-west trade and to ensure the people of Northern Ireland are able to access the same benefits as the people of Great Britain”.

“The Bill will ensure that goods moving and staying within the UK are freed of unnecessary bureaucracy through our new green channel,” she said.

“This respects Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, in its customs territory, and protects the UK internal market.

“At the same time it ensures that goods destined for the EU undergo the full checks and controls applied under EU law.”