Boris Johnson discusses Northern Ireland protocol

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Under the Protocol agreed by Boris Johnson in his trade deal with the European Union, Northern Ireland remains in the Single Market for trade and goods. It also means the land border between the Republic of Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (in the UK) is open to avoid new infrastructure, such as cameras and border posts.

As a result, more checks are now needed because the EU requires certain goods to be inspected at the point of entry into its single market.

The main threat to the Good Friday agreement from the Protocol as unionists perceive is to constitutional powers.

Loyalist communities are arguing these powers are being undermined by disruption to trade and the refusal of some companies to deliver to Northern Ireland from the UK.

Jamie Bryson, Unionist activist and Editor of Unionist Voice, told Express.co.uk that loyalist communities have been betrayed by the UK Government, with their consent completely shredded through the introduction of the NI Protocol.

Mr Bryson is most famed for his involvement in the Belfast City Hall flag protest, after the council voted to limit the number of days the union jack was flown from Government buildings.

He along with other unionists suggested it was an attempt by nationalists to reduce Britishness in Northern Ireland.

Bryson told Express.co.uk: “Its’ inconceivable that cross community consent is now gone, the Government is now exercising to appease nationalist violence to the detriment of law abiding unionists.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Assembly did not exist by the next election”.

This is in response to nationalists who are playing ‘tit for tat’ to advance their political objectives, by condoning a border in the Irish sea in order to avoid a land border, Mr Bryson argued.

As a result, there are now clear implications for the breakdown of trust unionists have in the Government to uphold the 1996 agreement signed in Belfast.

Mr Bryson added the agreement was the very basis of peace, which now could be threatened.

Until now, communities of unionist and nationalist alike have lived side by side through cross community consent. This as Mr Bryson suggests has been an equilibrium between the north, south, east, and west of Northern Ireland.

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However, the activist concluded its now a “forgone conclusion” that Stormont and the protocol cannot co-exist, the Government will have to choose.

“I don’t understand why the Government hasn’t already triggered Article 16”, Jamie Bryson told Express.co.uk.

“It’s had fingers in its ears refusing to listen, the UK Government has shown it cares far more about nationalist demands,” Jamie Bryson told Express.co.uk.
Article 16 refers to the clause in the UK’s withdrawal agreement specifically for Northern Ireland.

Under the clause, both the UK and EU have the unilateral power to take action should the application of the Protocol give rise to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade”.

In response to Mr Bryson’s comments a spokesperson for the UK government told the Express.co.uk: 

“The Northern Ireland Protocol exists to preserve peace, protect the gains of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and safeguard Northern Ireland’s integral place in the UK. It depends on the consent of the people of Northern Ireland through their institutions.

 “The Government is committed to working rapidly with the EU to address outstanding concerns about the Protocol to restore confidence on the ground. We have also introduced temporary, operational steps to minimise disruption and protect the everyday lives of the people living in Northern Ireland.”

The political uncertainty will almost certainly play into the hands of nationalists who will use the Brexit border issue to further their case for ending British rule.

The big question now is could Scotland’s growing dissatisfaction with Westminster trickle down to Northern Ireland in light of Brexit disruption and a feeling of a Westminster Government not listening.

 

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