‘Nothing wrong with cherry picking’: DUP’s Edwin Poots defends letter to UK government to water down Protocol Bill

DUP MLA Edwin Poots has defended an attempt to lobby the UK Government to water down some aspects of Northern Ireland Protocol legislation, saying there was “nothing wrong with raisin picking”.

The revelation came in the Financial Times, which reported on a letter the former DUP leader wrote to the government last July, when he was Agriculture Secretary, arguing that farmers in Northern Ireland would be better off under some aspects of the protocol .

In the letter to George Eustice, the UK’s Environment Secretary at the time, the politician said it was “unacceptable” that the Northern Ireland Protocol Act, if enacted, would force farmers in the region to use the same farm subsidy regime as the rest of the United Kingdom to accept the kingdom.

Mr Poots argued that ‘in relation to agriculture, the Protocol’s State Aid Schemes… provide significant policy flexibility for Northern Ireland.

“The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill proposes to reject and expand the subsidy control approach that we currently have (which works). [UK’s Subsidy Control Act] (which doesn’t work) to Northern Ireland. This is unacceptable and we need a solution,” he added.

Northern Ireland currently has no power-sharing government at Stormont, as the DUP refuses to allow the appointment of a Speaker of the Assembly or an Accession and an Executive against protocol.

The protocol was agreed by the UK and EU to ensure Ireland’s land border can flow freely after Brexit. This will be achieved by moving regulatory and customs controls to the maritime border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Many loyalists and trade unionists are vehemently opposed to the protocol, claiming it has weakened Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the UK.

The legislation, currently going through the House of Lords, allows ministers to suspend some post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland if a negotiated settlement with the European Union cannot be reached.

Mr Poots defended his move to the FT, saying the protocol was “completely unacceptable” but it was “completely reasonable” that he wanted to support farmers.

“There is nothing wrong with raisin picking,” he told the newspaper, before adding that Northern Ireland “must be able to respond to special circumstances if necessary”.

“If the NI Protocol Act were to go forward as currently drafted, it would remove the EU state aid framework and bring NI farming within the purview of the UK subsidy control regime,” he added.

“That makes different demands and the agricultural policy framework would have to be evaluated in the light of this different regime.”

The DUP has been contacted.

https://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/nothing-wrong-with-cherry-picking-dups-edwin-poots-defends-letter-to-uk-government-to-dilute-protocol-bill-42174825.html ‘Nothing wrong with cherry picking’: DUP’s Edwin Poots defends letter to UK government to water down Protocol Bill

Fry Electronics Team

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