Brexit: Lord Peter Hain reacts to attempts to change NI protocol
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Former Northern Ireland Secretary Lord Peter Hain has questioned Boris Johnson’s Government’s Brexit strategy over the rewriting of the Northern Ireland Protocol, as it would undermine Britain’s reputation to strike a trade deal with other foreign nations. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to announce a new bill on the Northern Ireland Protocol that would circumvent parts of the Protocol negotiated and signed with the European Union in 2020. To Lord Hain, the move would alter Britain’s reputation on the international stage.
Speaking to LBC, he said: “Well, first of all, there are negotiations going on. They have been going on for a while. And that is the way to resolve this problem.
“Not by trashing Britain’s reputation, having signed an international treaty with the European Union
“And then later turning around and say something we signed we will now legislate to override and effectively trash. You cannot get an agreement with people unless they trust you.
“We want, everybody wants, I said it on the Lord’s committee that is investigating the Irish, Northern Ireland protocol, everybody wants changes. Brussels wants changes. London wants changes. All the parties in Belfast want changes.”
Mr Hain continued: “And the Irish government is willing to have changes to just smooth the implementation of this treaty. That can be achieved by negotiation.
“I mean, I’ve negotiated on behalf of the British government in New York with the United Nations, in Brussels with the European Union, and of course, in Belfast to achieve the settlement that under Tony Blair we achieved in 2007 that brought all the MPs leaders all blood enemies and Martin McGuiness to share power together.”
In 2006, former Prime Minister Tony Blair took part in intense talks to restore power-sharing and eventually got former enemies, DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein’s politician Martin McGuiness, to put their differences aside and agree to power-sharing a year later.
Mr Hain continued: “These negotiations are difficult. But if you negotiate properly and honestly, then you can reach an agreement.
“And it’s quite possible to do this.
“But instead of which, the government is grandstanding and they’re piecing their own dogmatist instead of looking after Northern Ireland’s interests and also breaching international law.
“Why would anybody want to do an agreement with us in the future? If we don’t stand by what we signed for?”
Tension is mounting with the European Union, as Liz Truss’ bill on the Protocol could disapply some parts of it. In a speech to the Commons, Secretary Truss put forward legislation to solve Northern Ireland’s conundrum.
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The unionist DUP refused to enter power-sharing with the nationalist Sinn Fein party over the Irish Sea border – a checks border implemented under the protocol.
The DUP says the checks are worsening the cost-of-living crisis in Northern Ireland and distancing it from Great Britain.
Though Liz Tuss guaranteed the bill will not breach international law, opposition MPs have called for full legal advice.
If Boris Johnson’s Government moves forward with the unilateral move, EU’s Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcovic has suggested the EU could wage a trade war with Britain.
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