Dominic Raab Claims ‘Stability at Risk’ in Warning to EU as Sinn Fein Wins Big in Northern Ireland
12:47 GMT 08.05.2022 (Updated: 04:49 GMT 13.05.2022)
The UK government has repeatedly argued that the Northern Ireland Protocol is not working, as it causes delays and interruptions to goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for “comprehensive solution” on the document to be completed as soon as possible.
UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has warned that that stability in Northern Ireland was being endangered by problems pertaining to the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP)
, which governs Stormont’s post-Brexit trading arrangements.
The document stipulates that there would be no return to a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, establishing an effective border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland (NI) and the rest of the UK.
In an interview with Sky News on Saturday, Raab made it clear that NIP checks need to be scrapped to resolve power-sharing at Stormont following Sinn Fein’s assembly election success earlier this week, when Sinn Fein became the first Irish nationalist party to win the most seats in NI’s parliament.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) declines to serve with Sinn Fein in an executive unless the London-NI checks on goods agreed as part of the Brexit deal are lifted.
The deputy prime minister told Sky News that “stability is being put at risk - imperilled if you like - by the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, something that affects communities across the board”.
He cautioned that “it’s clear from the dynamic that we now see that we won’t get to that position of stability unless and until [the protocol] is fixed”.
“If not, we'll have to take the measures to make sure that the economic integrity of the trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain and frankly the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom is protected and preserved. It's clear now: if anything the outcome in Northern Ireland from those elections makes it clear it cannot be put off,” Raab said, referring to the NIP.
He promised that the UK government will take “whatever measures are necessary” to reform the document, and that the option of Downing Street taking action to tear up the deal without consent with Brussels “has not been taken off the table”.
When asked about a timeframe for changes to the protocol needed to be implemented and whether it would take weeks or months, he said, "no longer than that".
After the UK exited the EU, Northern Ireland also effectively left the single market, with the Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, remaining a part of the European bloc.
Under the NIP, Britain agreed to leave some EU rules in place in Northern Ireland and accept checks on goods arriving from elsewhere in the UK to preserve an open land border with EU member state Ireland as a key pillar of the peace process there, hailing back to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The deal, also known as the Belfast Agreement, ended decades of violence in conflict-torn Northern Ireland, establishing devolved power-sharing in the area and a demilitarised Irish border.