Great Britain

What is going to happen to the Northern Ireland protocol?


he Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, to give it its full title, was negotiated by David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, to replace the “backstop” negotiated by Theresa May. It was the crucial part of the withdrawal agreement that started to break the deadlock in parliament, because it finally united the Conservative Party.

“The protocol as we now have it was a huge improvement on the old ‘backstop’ which it replaced,” explained Frost, now a peer and cabinet minister, in an article yesterday. “This would have kept the whole of the UK locked in the EU customs union and single market until the EU gave us the keys.”

But Lord Frost said that the protocol is not working as he intended. He accused the EU of taking a “very purist view” of the “paperwork and checks” required, because it assumes that any goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK might end up in the EU via the open border with the Republic of Ireland. “We did not anticipate this when we agreed the protocol and it makes no sense,” he wrote.

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