Legislation to remove parts of the NI protocol ‘will not violate international law’

Legislation giving ministers the power to remove parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol will not breach international law, Brandon Lewis has insisted.

The Northern Ireland secretary said the new legislation, which will be presented to Parliament on Monday, would be “legal” and “correct”.

However, that claim was disputed by both Labor and Sinn Fein chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald, who said Mr Lewis was ‘talking through his hat’.

The government has confirmed it will table legislation to override parts of the protocol, which was jointly agreed by the UK and EU as part of the Withdrawal Agreement to keep the land border moving freely. Irish.

The provisions instead require regulatory checks and customs declarations on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Unionists vehemently oppose the protocol, saying it has undermined the region’s place within the UK.

The DUP blocked the formation of a new power-sharing government in Stormont after last month’s Assembly elections in protest at the protocol.

The bill due to go through parliament will see the government act without EU consent to change the terms of the international treaty in a bid to reduce controls on the movement of goods across the Irish Sea.

The EU has made it clear that such a move would represent a violation of international law and could lead to retaliation from the bloc.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves speaks to the media as she arrives at the BBC Broadcasting House in London (Yui Mok/PA)

Asked if the new legislation would break the law, Mr Lewis told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘The legislation we will introduce tomorrow is within the law.

“What we are going to do is legal and correct.

“We will set out our legal position on this. People will see that what we are proposing solves the key problems in the protocol that are not working. »

Mr Lewis accused the EU of being ‘dishonest’ in offering flexibilities on the protocol.

He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning: ‘What they say all the time in the media and that has been reported is that they offer flexibilities. Well, they are not.

“What the EU offers is some flexibility based on a fully implemented protocol. It would, in fact, be worse than the situation we have today.

He added: “So I think they’ve been dishonest in suggesting they’re flexible when in fact they haven’t shown the flexibility to address these issues for people in Northern Ireland. .”

Mr Lewis said he hoped the legislation would persuade the DUP to back the restoration of power-sharing institutions in Stormont.

“If the DUP is true to what it said, that is why it removed the Prime Minister in the first place, wanting to see positive progress in resolving the protocol issues.

“This legislation will do that and I hope they respect that and follow through.”

Mr Lewis is said to be undecided whether the new legislation will include plans to do away with the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Northern Ireland.

NI Assembly Crisis

Sinn Fein chair Mary Lou McDonald insisted the NI protocol was working in its current form (Liam McBurney/PA)

He told Times Radio: “I’m not going to prejudge, it’s right that we allow parliament to have a first look at the legislation.

“We have been very clear from the start that the issue of governance, we understand, is a problem. This is a problem for people in Northern Ireland.

“It is particularly a problem in the Unionist community because it is part of the question of identity and again part of the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement respects the two central communities of Northern Ireland North.

“The trade union community has an identity problem, which I think sometimes our colleagues and friends in the EU struggle to understand.”

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves told Sky News ‘it looks like’ the government is planning to break international law.

She said: ‘This Government seems to be developing a record of breaking the law and it is not one that Labor can support.

“We helped bring about the Good Friday Agreement, we are deeply and passionately committed to it.

“We want the Northern Ireland Protocol to work, but we know that to make it work we need to negotiate and work with our European partners.”

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald insisted the protocol was working in its current form.

She added: ‘What the Conservative government proposes to do by breaching international law is to create huge, huge damage to the economy of the North, to the economy of Ireland.

“They are proposing to violate international law and are about to undermine, attack and damage the Good Friday Agreement.”

Ms McDonald continued: ‘Brandon Lewis is speaking through his hat, and not for the first time.

“Brandon Lewis should know, the Conservative government should know, that where there are issues to be resolved with the protocol, issues with smoothing its application, there are mechanisms by which that can happen.

“There is a will here, a will to engage on the part of the European Commission.

“But the UK government has refused to engage, has not been constructive, has sought a destructive course and is now proposing to introduce legislation which will undoubtedly breach international law.

“And against the democratic wishes expressed by the people of Northern Ireland who went to the polls, made their democratic decision and elected a majority of members who support the protocol.”