NI protocol – the big stick of trade sanctions

A chara, – The Boris Johnson government has once again signalled its intention to break international law and its treaty obligations to the EU by introducing domestic legislation to override parts of the protocol and to annul the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over protocol-related matters.

Mr Johnson has stated that he doesn’t think the EU will retaliate in any way. He could be forgiven for forming this conviction in that the EU paused legal actions to redress current UK flouting of the protocol and has continued to talk meekly about addressing any issues which might arise out of the implementation of the protocol. He also has the chutzpah to claim that the protocol lacks support in Northern Ireland, despite 56 per cent of the electorate voting for pro-protocol parties, with the main anti-protocol party, the DUP, reduced to 21 per cent of the vote. He has continued to side openly with the DUP, despite the Belfast Agreement requiring the UK government to act impartially and give equality of esteem to both political traditions in the North.

Fintan O'Toole ("Truss's latest take on NI protocol reveals what is really going on", Opinion & Analysis, May 17th) argues that the UK government's real intention is negotiate free trade agreements with southern hemisphere countries which promise them back-door access to the single market through Northern Ireland in return for free UK access to their markets. One of the main benefits of Brexit was always supposed to be the scrapping of Common Agricultural Policy subsidies on agricultural produce and their replacement by cheaper food sourced on world markets.That this would fatally undermine British agriculture is of little concern to Conservatives because of its small contribution to British GDP, but Northern Ireland agriculture is a much more important component of Northern GDP. How will Northern Ireland farmers fare when faced with cheaper imports from abroad and from CAP-subsidised Irish farmers?

It is time for the EU to wield the big stick of trade sanctions until Mr Johnson realises that breaking the withdrawal agreement and the Belfast Agreement carries a huge cost for the UK as a whole. – Is mise,


Blessington, Co Wicklow.