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UK Ex-Minister Says EU Is Trying to Break Up UK as ‘Price of Brexit’

© AP Photo / Peter MorrisonLoyalists opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol protest in Newtownards town centre, Northern Ireland, Friday, June 18, 2021.
Loyalists opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol protest in Newtownards town centre, Northern Ireland, Friday, June 18, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.10.2021
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The Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the UK-EU trade deal, is ostensibly intended to preserve the conditions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement — better known as the Good Friday Agreement — that ended the 30-year conflict between republicans, loyalists and British forces in the region.
A leading Conservative Brexiteer and former cabinet minister has accused the European Union (EU) of trying to split Northern Ireland off from the UK as punishment for leaving the bloc.
In an article published on the Conservative Home website, Wokingham MP and former Wales minister, John Redwood, said Brussels was trying to use the Northern Ireland Protocol annexe to the January 2020 withdrawal agreement to divide the six counties from the United Kingdom.

“The biggest threat today to the Union comes from the EU,” Redwood said. “There is a strand of EU thinking that has surfaced in press briefings and the odd comment that says there must be a price to Brexit for the UK, and that price should be the detachment of Northern Ireland from the UK.”

The protocol, part of the UK-EU trade deal, is ostensibly intended to preserve the conditions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement — better known as the Good Friday Agreement — that ended the 30-year conflict between republicans, loyalists and British forces in the region.
The EU insisted during negotiations that a customs border be imposed between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland to prevent British goods from being imported into the EU by the "back door", keeping the territory in its Common Market and subject to Brussels regulations.
Redwood said the bloc had chosen to "make things difficult" by claiming the Good Friday Agreement means there should be no border controls between the republic and the north — agreeing with the main Republican party Sinn Fein. But he pointed out there were VAT tax, excise and currency controls even when the UK was in the EU, although they were handled electronically for minimum disruption.
The MP said the UK had already proposed several solutions, including electronic consignment manifests, trusted trader schemes and simply "mutual enforcement of the rules".
"The fact that the EU has rejected all these sensible proposals implies it does not want to solve the narrow issue of trade," Redwood stressed. "It may be that the immediate objective is to divert large amounts of trade from GB/NI into Republic to NI trade. That is what is happening."
"Faced with the EU blockage of simple GB/NI movement of goods in the way we used to enjoy, consumers in NI are being forced to buy from the EU via the Republic instead of getting their deliveries on time," he said, pointing out that the oft-cited Article 16 of the protocol allows it to be suspended if any such "diversion of trade" occurs.
Pro-European Union,(EU), anti-Brexit demonstrator Steve Bray holds the EU and UK flags outside the Houses of Parliament, in central London on January 22, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.10.2021
EU Reportedly Threatens ‘Robust Response’ Such as Blocking UK Energy Supplies Amid NI Protocol Row
The EU's "demand that it can legislate for NI" in policy areas from the environment and energy to transport and labour on the pretext of defending single market rules "does not have the consent of the Unionist population," the former minister warned.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the small DUP split Traditional Unionist Voice are taking legal action to have the protocol declared unlawful.

"The EU has united Unionists against its Protocol because they see the EU seeking to split NI off from UK law and NI consumers from GB suppliers, going well beyond its legitimate needs to police its trade," Redwood noted.

The backbencher urged the Government and Minister for State for EU Relations - the former chief Brexit negotiator, David, Lord Frost - to "see off this needless threat to the Union by insisting on UK control of GB/NI trade as is required under the Protocol."
Redwood advised the EU to "take up one of the many generous schemes the UK has put forward" to end the row.
If Brussels "wishes to show sympathy for Northern Ireland and wish to understand the nature of the problem, it needs to grasp that sovereignty is at the heart of the issues long dividing the two communities," he said. "The EU’s view of it does not work for the Unionists."
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