Alliance Party Deputy Leader and MP, Stephen Farry, has called on the UK Government to urgently confirm its full commitment to the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Good Friday Agreement.
This comes on the back of reports in the Financial Times and other media outlets that the Government is potentially legislating to change aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement as part of its forthcoming Internal Market legislation. Mr Farry stressed that the Protocol is already part of a binding international agreement and any reversal would bring major consequences for Northern Ireland and the UK economy.
Stephen Farry said: “While we await the formal publication of the Government’s Internal Market legislation, media reports and subsequent comments from government spokespeople and ministers confirm that there are major causes for concern. The longer the legitimate fears and concerns go unaddressed, damage to good faith and trust will grow.
“The Protocol is not perfect, but it is the inevitable requirement in order to protect the Good Friday Agreement arising from the UK’s pursuit of a hard Brexit. It has always been clear, and Government Ministers had previously confirmed this, that the Protocol would be implemented even in the event of no deal on a future relationship.
“If the UK followed through with unilaterally abandoning even parts of its commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement that would have huge consequences for the operation of the Good Friday Agreement, the avoidance of a hard border on the island of Ireland, the UK’s international reputation and ability to sustain other agreements, any prospects of a EU-UK future relationship agreement. Furthermore, any US-UK trade deal, the ultimate goal of the Brexit extremists, would not be ratified by a Democrat controlled Congress let alone negotiated by any Biden Administration if the Good Friday Agreement is jeopardised. All of this would cause huge damage to the UK economy.
“The UK Government has a duty and responsibility today to clarify and reaffirm its commitment to the entirety of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol. While some Brexiteers may be rather cocky around the prospects of abandonment of the Protocol, this course of action would be an unsustainable dead end for the UK.”