British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she had no regrets voting for the Northern Ireland Protocol, which she now describes as disastrous, and suggested backing it in the expectation that it would be changed.
n an interview with the Belfast TelegraphMs Truss said there were myriad problems “burned into the record” but then claimed it was a surprise to see these problems crop up – although the UK Government’s own analysis at the time said many of them would crop up.
When asked if she regretted voting for the record, she said: “No, I don’t. We had to deliver on Brexit and pull through with Brexit.”
Ms Truss also said her government’s legal advice is that triggering Article 16 cannot do much more than the current situation, where parts of the protocol have not been implemented. That undermines her continued threats to use Article 16, although Ms Truss again said it was still possible.
Her comments came as MPs debated and voted for the first time on the bill that would neutralize much of the protocol that Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed as a “fantastic” deal just two years ago and denied that it involves a border in the Irish Sea would include.
However, with accusations from the EU and many lawyers that it violates international law, there is deep skepticism on all sides as to whether Mr Johnson really intends to put the bill into law – which is expected to take over a year.
Announcing the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill last month, Ms Truss said she was ready to negotiate with the EU, but only if they got the same result as the law.
That message was taken by some unionists as an indication that whether the protocol was largely dismantled by the bill or, far less likely, by talks with Brussels, much of it would work.
However, when Ms. Truss published the text of the law two weeks ago, there was a subtle shift in language. The Foreign Secretary, who is widely believed to see herself as Mr Johnson’s likely successor, instead spoke only of achieving “changes” to the text of the protocol through negotiations – still highly unlikely given the EU’s position, but referring no longer insist on the need for these changes to deliver the same result as the bill.
Speaking yesterday, however, Ms Truss appeared to revert to her previous rhetoric, saying the bill means businesses in Northern Ireland now have “certainty” about what is about to happen. She said the UK government’s actions mean “people know this solution will be in place by next year” and described it as a “durable and robust long-term solution to stop the feeling of brain drain.. .the people of Northern Ireland don’t know what’s going to happen”.
Asked if she would accept a change to the protocol rather than any changes the bill would make, she said: “Well, those issues – and there are four key issues, which are customs and SPS, VAT and state aid, governance and Regulation… we need to fix these four problems. Now, if there is a slightly different way that would deliver the result of rebalancing the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, we would be willing to look at it.
“But what we have seen from the EU so far are solutions that are worse than the current standstill, that would actually mean more bureaucracy.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/liz-truss-we-opted-for-northern-ireland-protocol-with-expectation-of-greater-flexibility-from-the-eu-41796776.html Liz Truss says she has no regrets about Northern Ireland Protocol – ‘I voted for it because I knew it would be changed’