Tony Blair warns Good Friday Agreement at risk due to EU's hardline stance
The former Prime Minister urges the EU to alter its view on border checks
Tony Blair has issued a stark warning regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol, stating how the EU's hardline stance on border checks could jeopardised the Good Friday agreement.
The former Prime Minister, who was responsible for negotiating and signing the 1998 peace deal, pleaded for Brussels and No 10 to show "maximum flexibility" and disregard a compromise which would see red tape on goods heading from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
His highly anticipated comments hope to ramp up the pressure on the EU to negotiate the protocol.
Mr Blair's comments are thought to resonate in the US, where criticism of No 10's approach has been rife, given his work with Bill Clinton on securing the Belfast accord.
The former Prime Minister has emphasised the need for face-to-face talks between Boris Johnson and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in order to form a breakthrough deal, overcoming the Brexit withdrawal pact.
His think tank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, warned that the toxic row over Northern Ireland risks dividing the Western Alliance against Vladimir Putin's and his invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Blair said: "If left unresolved, the issues at the heart of the Protocol have the capability of causing an enlarged trade conflict between the UK and the EU, or undermining the Good Friday Agreement – and quite possibly both.
"In the interests of broader European harmony and trade – especially at a time when Europe, including the UK, has come together impressively over Ukraine – both the EU and the UK should show maximum flexibility in order to reach an agreement".
Mr Blair emphasised the need for the EU to adjust its stance on the border agreement in Northern Ireland, adding that the situation has reached an irreparable "state of dispute" and the highest political level will be required to rectify the issues as the "two bureaucratic systems will not settle this".
Leader of the DUP, Sir Jeffery Donaldson, said: "The Protocol threatens our place in the United Kingdom, endangers jobs for our people, drives up costs for consumers and reduces choice on our shelves. We’re making progress but we need to keep moving," in an interview in The Telegraph.
Sir Donaldson added that the "Protocol is a bad deal and is undermining the Good Friday Agreement" and the EU should "take note and recognise the harm the Protocol is doing to political stability in Northern Ireland".
The comments follow recent events at the Stormont Assembly, where the DUP have refused to re-enter a power-sharing government until the border arrangement is scrapped.
Foreign Secretary, Lizz Truss, is expected to propose legislation in the Commons next week, that would enable the Government to overrule elements of the Protocol and discard required checks on goods transiting the Irish Sea.