BoJo May Urge NI Politicians to Restore Power-Sharing Deal Amid Post-Brexit Trade Protocol Tensions

© AFP 2023 / FRANK AUGSTEINBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson caries his ministerial red box as he exits a car to board a flight from London Stansted airport, on May 11, 2022
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson caries his ministerial red box as he exits a car to board a flight from London Stansted airport, on May 11, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2022
The UK and the EU are at odds over the Northern Ireland Protocol, with the British government reportedly preparing to propose legislation that would unilaterally scrap key parts of the document. Brussels has reacted by accusing London of making “threats and blackmail’” related to the issue.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will deliver a “tough message” to Northern Ireland's politicians to restore their power-sharing agreement during his visit to Belfast on Monday amid the London-Brussels tensions over the post-Brexit trade protocol, The Daily Mail has cited unnamed government sources as saying.
BoJo is travelling to Belfast for crunch talks after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) blocked the election of a speaker at Stormont. The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein outperformed the DUP in the 5 May Northern Ireland Assembly election for the first time, prompting unionists to warn they will boycott the new government unless post-Brexit trade rules with the EU are addressed.
The sources argued that Johnson will use a series of private meetings to warn that any "fix" to the Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol should stipulate the parties coming together to form an Executive and Assembly.
The British prime minister is expected to say that while the UK government will "play its part to ensure political stability", politicians must "get back to work" so that they can deliver on "bread and butter issues" for the voters.
Additionally, Johnson will reportedly update Northern Ireland’s politicians on the UK’s latest negotiations with the EU over the NI Protocol. He is expected to say that while the government “will always keep the door open to genuine dialogue”, there will be a “necessity to act” to protect the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) if Brussels does not change its position. The deal, also known as the Belfast Agreement, ended 30 years of violence in conflict-torn Northern Ireland, establishing devolved power-sharing in the area and a demilitarised Irish border.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves from an excavator during his visit at the JCB factory in Vadodara on April 21, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.04.2022
Boris Johnson Says NI Protocol Issues Getting More 'Acute', Vows to 'Fix' Them One Way or Another
The insiders asserted that BoJo would also claim that Downing Street has never suggested scrapping the NI Protocol and that a treaty should be in place to regulate the UK's relationship with the EU regarding Northern Ireland so as to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic.
At the same time, the PM is expected to say that the "delicate balance" of the GFA has been damaged, something that allegedly disrupted the historic economic bonds linking Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. According to Johnson, this has left the unionists feeling that their aspirations and identity are under threat.

Sinn Fein Accuses Johnson of Being 'in Cahoots' With the DUP

The sources’ claims come after the Sinn Fein party accused Johnson of being "in cahoots" with the DUP and supporting its "blocking tactics". The DUP opposes the NI Protocol as it requires checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, keep the border with Republic open in line with the GFA.
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said that “it is very dangerous, it's reckless, it's a game of brinkmanship, very cynically carried out by a Tory government in London that has no care for the island of Ireland, north or south”.
She also berated the UK government for failing to act in "good faith", adding, "Let's just be clear that the protocol is going nowhere. The protocol is a necessary outworking of Brexit for which the Tory party and the DUP campaigned”.
According to McDonald, “the British government cannot use Ireland as a pawn, we won't be the collateral damage in the Brexit negotiations”.
A man walks past graffiti reading No Irish sea border in the mainly loyalist Donegal road area of South Belfast, Northern Ireland, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.05.2022
UK Reportedly Set to Scrap Chunks of NI Protocol Unless EU Backs Down on Border Checks
She spoke after Johnson previously made it clear that he was serious about his threats to rip up the document, telling the Daily Mail that “there is the issue of the protocol” and the government is “going to have to fix it”.
“And I think we can certainly fix it in a way that is in there that protects the EU single market totally, but stops totally unnecessary barriers to trade”, he said. When asked if he was bluffing about overriding the agreement, the PM said, “I’m certainly not bluffing in my concern about Stormont and where we need to go. We need to get it back up and running”.
The warning came amid reports that government ministers have drawn up a legislation to allow the UK to override elements of the protocol, a document that could be unveiled early next week and might lead to a trade war between the UK and the EU.
Brussels accused London of issuing “threats and blackmail” after British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic that the UK would have “no choice but to act” if the EU does not give in to demands to scale back customs checks.
Attorney General Suella Braverman, the UK government's chief legal adviser, for her part did not deny reports that she had already approved the scrapping of large parts of the protocol with emergency legislation. She told the BBC that the need for UK action was “becoming painfully, apparently necessary”.

Northern Ireland Protocol

The NI Protocol envisages that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Under the document, though, all goods and animal-based products coming from the rest of the British territories must be checked upon arrival to ensure their compatibility with EU sanitary regulations.
The UK government has repeatedly argued that the NI Protocol is not working, as it causes delays and interruptions to goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also infuriating unionists, who believe their place within the UK could be affected, thus threatening the GFA that in 1998 put an end to 30 years of armed conflict in the island.
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