Fix the Protocol, Boris! Brexit warning as ‘polarisation’ to continue in Northern Ireland

Edwin Poots on legal action against Northern Ireland Protocol

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The Northern Ireland Protocol – agreed in the Brexit deal – is designed to avoid customs checks along the Irish border. But, trust was badly damaged in January when the EU moved to block the export of COVID-19 vaccines to Northern Ireland.

The decision was reversed but the EU’s willingness to use override the protocol using its “Article 16” emergency provisions during a health crisis caused cross-party shock.

Tensions across Northern Ireland reached boiling point and the nation was rocked by street violence last month.

There is anger in unionist communities at how the post-Brexit protocol has disrupted trade with England, Wales and Scotland.

But now, Emeritus Professor Adrian Guelke has warned “polarisation” across Northern Ireland is likely to continue.

He told “I think polarisation will continue.

“I think the hope has to be that the way the protocol is implemented will make things easier.

“People will find how to operate the protocol so it becomes less noticeable.”

Professor Guelke went on to say claim both the EU or the UK were “ready to implement” the protocol as Brexit negotiations happened at the last minute.

He continued: “I think one of the reasons why the protocol is not being implemented is actually simply neither the EU or the UK were ready to implement it.

“The negotiations had been done at such a last minute.

“No one knew the exact nature of the trade agreement between the UK and the EU was going to be.

“The protocol goes back a bit beyond that but nevertheless people could not anticipate exactly how the protocol would operate until the larger agreement was negotiated.”

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While claiming there will be areas where neither side will be able to “reconcile”, the protocol was designed to find solutions.

He added: “I am sure the intention is to avoid a situation where there will be border checks between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

“That is obviously a high priority on both sides.

“The EU’s priority is to make sure the integrity of the single market is protected while the UK also has interests in trade between Northern Ireland and Britain.

“There will be areas where they cannot reconcile but they can improve the means for reaching their objections.

“The whole design is to have a committee to work on finding solutions.”

Earlier this month, the Government signalled it was prepared to scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol to protect peace as the EU hardened its stance.

The UK Government has said it still believes the Protocol can work as intended but they are concerned it will prove “unsustainable” if the EU’s only concern is protecting the single market.

They accused the bloc of undermining rather than supporting the Good Friday Agreement.

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