UK to push for ‘significant change’ beyond EU proposals for NI

Sides set to clash over UK call to remove oversight of North’s trade from EU judges

Anti-Brexit placards in Belfast in 2018: Britain is set to ratchet up pressure on the EU this week to agree an overhaul of the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Anti-Brexit placards in Belfast in 2018: Britain is set to ratchet up pressure on the EU this week to agree an overhaul of the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

 

The United Kingdom will press the European Union for further changes to Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland this week, beyond concessions from Brussels to scrap many border controls on goods moving from Britain.

The British government will call this week for “significant change” to the Northern Ireland protocol, a part of the Brexit agreement, to restore good relations between the EU and the UK.

The protocol left Northern Ireland under some EU trade rules after Brexit to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. Border checks on goods moving to Northern Ireland from Britain have angered unionists and led to a threat from the UK to suspend the arrangement.

The EU will offer concessions, due to be announced on Wednesday, to reduce Northern Ireland’s border controls and customs checks on goods and permit British chilled meats to be sold in Northern Ireland, in a move that would reduce the possibility of a “sausage war” with the UK.

Both sides are expected to clash on the UK plan to proceed with a demand that the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the EU’s highest court, be removed from its oversight role on the protocol.

‘Deep imbalance’

Brexit minister David Frost will say in a speech tomorrow that the role of the ECJ has “created a deep imbalance in the way the protocol operates” and without changes, the protocol “will never have the support it needs to survive”.

Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said the EU’s proposals would have “huge positive practical implications for businesses in Northern Ireland” whereas the issue of the ECJ was a “relatively theoretical issue” that did not affect people on the ground.

“The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice is there as sort of an arbitrator of last resort. It’s not something that is going to be noticed practically by people day to day in Northern Ireland at all,” he said.

Tensions flared over the issue as Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Mr Frost clashed over the matter on Twitter over the weekend.

In a tweet on Saturday night, Mr Coveney accused the UK of creating a “new ‘red line’ barrier to progress”, which it knows the EU cannot accept. He questioned whether London wants a “further breakdown in relations”.

Mr Frost replied that he preferred “not to do negotiations by Twitter” but said the UK had set out its concerns about the ECJ in July and that “too few people seem to have listened”.

News Digests

Stay on top of the latest newsSIGN UP HERE