Boris Johnson reiterates threat to suspend parts of Northern Ireland Protocol

Boris Johnson has repeated his threat to suspend elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol and warned the European Union that the Good Friday deal is more important than the post-Brexit deal.

Britain’s Prime Minister said on Wednesday that the protocol does not mandate cross-community support in Northern Ireland, adding “we must get it settled” despite warnings from European leaders not to interfere in the deal it brokered.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is set to tell the EU the dispute over Northern Ireland cannot drag on after warning she will “not hesitate” to take action as she accused the EU of proposing solutions that would “bring us back”. .

As UK ministers debate whether to introduce legislation suspending parts of the agreement, Senior Cabinet Member Michael Gove warned that “no option is off the table”.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz emphasized that “no one should unilaterally cancel, break or in any way attack the settlement”.

At a press conference in Sweden, Mr Johnson questioned whether now was the right time to start a fight with the EU amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The most important agreement is the 25-year-old Good Friday Agreement in Belfast,” said the Prime Minister.

“This is vital to the stability of our country of Great Britain, Northern Ireland. And that has to be, things have to have the support of the community.

“The Northern Ireland Protocol clearly does not do this and we need to clarify that.”

Ms Truss is expected to reiterate the risk to the Good Friday deal in a call with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic on Thursday, warning that the situation must not be allowed to drag on.

Mr Gove, who had previously held talks with Mr Sefcovic, told LBC radio he was “super cool” with the threat of tearing up the record.

But he insisted the Government will not tear up the deal, telling BBC Breakfast: “No. We will negotiate with the EU to get the best possible outcome for the people of Northern Ireland, but no option is out of the question.”

He insisted Mr Sefcovic and the foreign minister had a “good relationship”, adding: “They will try to make progress tomorrow. I know that both are fully committed to helping us solve some very difficult issues that have arisen.

“You would expect a UK government, when considering the security of the whole of the UK, to say there is no option off the table and that is absolutely correct.”

Mr Gove dismissed suggestions that he is among Cabinet members opposed to tearing up the protocol Mr Johnson agreed to in 2019.

Asked how angry he was on a scale of one to ten, Mr Gove told LBC radio: “Minus five. I’m super cool with it and I’m a huge, huge Liz Truss fan.”

Downing Street backed Ms Truss by claiming some EU proposals were “a step backwards” but declined to say whether preparations were underway for a possible trade war with the bloc.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think we are overtaking ourselves. We want nothing but good relations with our EU partners, but I will not engage in speculation about what might happen in the future.”

He said “some relatively minor concessions” by the EU in the past “show that change can be achieved where the will is there”.

When asked if the government was drafting controversial new legislation, the spokesman said: “I would not go into the specifics of policy development on any subject.

“It’s something we’re looking at closely, it’s a serious issue, all options are on the table.”

Officials working for Ms Truss are drafting legislation to unilaterally remove the need for controls on all goods shipped from the UK for use in Northern Ireland.

Reporters have been told Ms Truss is ready to take further action in the coming weeks if negotiations with the EU continue to falter.

The proposed law would allow businesses in Northern Ireland to flout EU rules and regulations and strip the European Court of Justice of the power to rule on matters relating to the region.

Crucially, it would partially overrule the protocol agreed by Mr Johnson in 2019 and would mean the UK would have breached its obligations under the Brexit deal.

However, it has been argued that the protocol will not be overridden entirely, but instead action will be considered to resolve the problems on the ground in Northern Ireland.

Separately, Britain pledged to defend Sweden if the country was attacked, with Mr Johnson and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson signing a security deal outside Stockholm on Wednesday.

Sweden and Finland are considering joining NATO following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Johnson is later said to make a similar defense commitment to Finland, where he will meet with President Sauli Niinisto.

The deal will “bolster the defenses of northern Europe in the face of renewed threats,” Johnson said in a statement, adding it was “a symbol of eternal assurance between our nations.”

“This is not a short-term stopgap, but a long-term commitment to strengthen military ties and global stability, and strengthen Europe’s defenses for generations to come,” Johnson said in the statement. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer land border with Russia.

“And whether it’s a disaster or a military attack, what we’re saying today is that if the other party requested it, we would come to the aid of the other parties,” Johnson said at a joint news conference. He said the war in Ukraine was “Putin’s bloodthirsty campaign against a sovereign nation.”

Andersson said: “Putin thought he could create division, but he achieved the opposite. We’re more united here today than ever.”

The Kremlin has warned of “military and political repercussions” should Sweden and Finland decide to join NATO. Andersson said Russia will increase its “military presence in the region if Sweden and/or Finland submit an application.”

In the event of an application, there is a transition period from the application until ratification by all 30 parliaments of the NATO members. The two Nordic countries are expected to announce their positions on NATO membership in the coming days.

He met Andersson in Harpsund, the country home of the Swedish prime ministers, about 90 kilometers south-west of Stockholm.

Johnson, who said Putin is “a 21st-century tyrant,” also offered to step up the deployment of British troops and military assets to the region during his day-long visit.

Britain is already present in the Baltic Sea areas with the Joint Expeditionary Force, made up of 10 northern European nations: the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway.

In 2017, Sweden and Finland joined the British-led military rapid reaction force, designed to be more flexible and quicker to respond than the larger NATO alliance. It uses NATO standards and doctrines, allowing it to operate in conjunction with NATO, UN, or other multinational coalitions. The force has been fully operational since 2018 and has conducted a number of exercises both independently and in cooperation with NATO.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/boris-johnson-reiterates-threat-to-override-parts-of-northern-ireland-protocol-41639550.html Boris Johnson reiterates threat to suspend parts of Northern Ireland Protocol

Fry Electronics Team

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