Brexit: EU is playing ‘hardball’ with Northern Ireland says Hoey
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The Northern Ireland protocol has become a contentious issue since the UK completed its departure from the EU. Last month, the EU threatened to invoke Article 16 of the Brexit trade deal in order to stop vaccines entering Northern Ireland and then on to Great Britain through the backdoor. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Tory MP for Clwyd West and deputy chairman of the European Research Group, David Jones claimed the EU’s threat to invoke Article 16 was a provocative act.
After vowing to protect the peace process in Ireland throughout Brexit talks, Mr Jones claimed it is now apparent the EU wants to use the protocol to punish the UK.
He said: “I think the Northern Ireland protocol has to be revisited.
“The Northern Ireland protocol, which was supposed to be something to allow flow of goods across the border without the need for physical operators on the border, has actually, it turns out been something that the EU want to use as a weapon against the UK.
“It’s something that they want to use as a weapon to punish the UK for something the UK hasn’t done.
“So I think that now that we’ve seen the way that they will use the Northern Ireland protocol, the withdrawal agreement itself has got to be looked at to get.
“And I think that the British government would be entirely justified to say, you know, this is not working you you’ve abused the terms of this treaty.”
Following the backlash in Northern Ireland, the Republic and Britain, the EU Commission was forced to withdraw its threat to enact Article 16.
Such was the threat to the peace process in Ireland, Ms von der Leyen has admitted mistakes had been made over the move to bloc vaccines to the UK.
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The article allows either side to invoke emergency trade measures if they are being severely impacted by the trade agreement.
Although EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen withdrew the threat soon after announcing her intent to do so, Mr Jones stated the damage has already been done to relations.
He added the EU has now has raised concern in the UK while also echoing Michael Gove’s comments that Pandora’s box had now been opened.
Amid the trade uncertainty, Mr Gove warned the EU that certain alterations to the withdrawal agreement must be made to solve the issues in Northern Ireland.
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In response, however, his EU counterpart and vice-president of the Commission Maros Sefcovic stated alterations could not be made.
Ahead of their face-to-face meeting on Thursday, Mr Sefcovic insisted the protocol must be maintained in order to stop the peace process from being infringed.
The problems surrounding the protocol lie in that Northern Ireland left the EU as part of the UK but must adhere to Brussels’ single market and some customs checks.
Due to this and the creation of border down the Irish Sea, there have been concerns over the safety of staff at ports in Northern Ireland.
Such is the situation, the DUP has called on the protocol to be adjusted or maybe even scrapped.
She told Peston: “We were promised unfettered access from GB to NI and a lot of people remember the PM’s words around that and in fact, quite the opposite has happened.
“There are now barriers between GB & NI and that’s not acceptable for the greater number of people who live here”
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