DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said that the Northern Ireland protocol “in itself provides insurmountable barriers in political, legal and commercial terms” and must be “replaced and not just amended”. [with] on the edges.”
In an interview with Philip Boucher-Hayes on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday, Campbell described the situation as a “little mess” and said Britain had not acted as an “honest broker” in establishing the protocol.
“If you look back a couple of years, our own [the UK] The government and the EU engaged in intense discussions and the protocol was the end result of those discussions. Some of us said, ‘This is not going to work, this is going to create huge problems.’
“Initially there was rejection of that position and some of the other parties were talking about rigid implementation of that protocol. I think in the months that followed everyone saw some of the problems. Many stores’ product lines were reduced because we couldn’t get the products out there.
“There were these ridiculous checks on goods that couldn’t possibly get into the EU single market. And there was a complicated series of issues that came out of the protocol that I think are now coming to a head. And I would prefer that they come to a head now that this drags on and the problems get worse.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol, a part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK that guarantees a special post-Brexit trading status for the North in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland and ensure peace on the island . The protocol has become a source of political tension for some unionists and between the EU and the UK amid pending questions about its implementation.
The ongoing tensions have created an impasse in efforts to form a devolved government administration in Belfast, with the DUP refusing to join an executive unless its concerns over protocol are addressed.
Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, accused the DUP of “denying democracy” in response.
Earlier this month, prominent US Congressmen Bill Keating and Brendan Boyle sent a strong letter to British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, warning against any unilateral move by the British government to nullify parts of the protocol and stating that most elected in Northern Ireland supported by working within the parameters of the protocol.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this week that he believed the protocol-related issues could be resolved, but the UK government kept moving the posts on his position.
He said the EU “wants to work this out” and wanted to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the UK government and did not accept the proposal that the EU had not been flexible with the protocol.
‘Not an honest broker’
Campbell said on Saturday that Britain had not acted as an honest broker in establishing the protocol.
“I don’t think they acted like [an] honest broker in establishing the protocol after [British PM] Boris Johnson saying that there would be no border in the Irish Sea. And now, obviously, there is one, hopefully it will be treated soon. I don’t think you can consider him or the government as honest brokers to date.”
Campbell added that using the prospect of a hard border to try to create a border in the Irish Sea was “beyond imagination”.
“And your former taoiseach [Leo Varadkar] made . . . when he took the famous or infamous copy of The Irish Times with the customs post burned to [French president Emmanuel] Macron and [former German chancellor Angela] Merkel and said: ‘We don’t want to go back to that’: when that is not going to happen.
“We need to help the EU design a system where they can be sure that their EU single market is protected, where Northern Ireland’s place within the UK single market is also protected.” Additional Report: PA