Brexit: UK 'wanted to be in charge' says Widdecombe
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Lord Hannan argued the protocol was created by the EU as “the surest way to keep the UK from straying too far from their regulatory orbit”. He warned it has “destabilised the delicate balance in Ulster” and caused “needless economic disruption”.
Under the terms of the Brexit deal Mr Johnson agreed last December, some customs checks now take place on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
This has infuriated unionists, who argue it undermines Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.
Britain unilaterally postponed introducing some checks, sparking legal action from Brussels.
The EU is now demanding Britain implement the protocol in full or risk retaliatory measures.
However, Mr Johnson insists Brussels must compromise if the protocol is to work.
Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hannan said: “As Eurocrats see it, the Protocol is the surest way to keep the UK from straying too far from their regulatory orbit.
“Already, every trade deal we contract with a third country needs to be compatible with its terms.
“But they want to go further, squeezing us until we agree to follow all EU food and veterinary rules in perpetuity, thereby rendering an independent commercial policy far less viable.”
On Thursday hundreds of loyalists, some wearing balaclavas, protested against the protocol on Belfast’s Shankill Road.
Loyalist rioting across Northern Ireland in April was attributed in part to anger over the protocol.
There are fears tensions could increase further if additional customs checks are introduced, at the climax of the loyalist marching season next month.
Lord Hannan argued the protocol cannot last, and the only question is what replaces it.
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He said: “The question is not whether the Protocol can be maintained. It can’t.
“The question, rather, is whether the EU will acquiesce in the process of its replacement, or at least, its substantive reform. All the signs are that it won’t.
“Brussels sees Northern Ireland as a tender spot, a place where it can chafe and irritate the British with – thanks to Theresa May’s atrocious negotiations – the letter of the law on its side.”
French president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to block any changes to the protocol arrangements.
Instead, he is demanding Britain implement December’s agreement in full.
On Saturday Mr Johnson warned some EU leaders “do seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country, a single territory”.
Speaking to Sky News he added: “I think we can sort it out, but it is up to our EU friends and partners to understand that we will do whatever it takes.
“If the protocol continues to be applied in this way, then we will obviously not hesitate to invoke article 16 [ending the protocol], as I have said before.”
The EU threatened to invoke Article 16, suspending the protocol, back in January during a row with Britain over coronavirus vaccines.
However, it backed down following a furious reaction in London, Dublin and Belfast.
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