London presents its controversial revision of the post-Brexit protocol

London presents its controversial revision of the post-Brexit protocol

A text likely to upset everyone. The British government will present its bill on Monday modifying elements of the Northern Irish protocol, concluded with the EU in the context of Brexit. Even if he assures that the proposed text is “legal”, the opposition Labor Party and the Irish Republican Party Sinn Fein have accused him of “violating international law”. The EU has further clearly warned that such a unilateral step means going back on an international treaty and would justify trade retaliation.

The protocol was signed to protect the European single market after Brexit without causing the return of a hard border between British Northern Ireland and the European Republic of Ireland, and thus preserve the peace concluded in 1998 with the agreement Good Friday, after three decades of bloody unrest between Unionists and Republicans. For this purpose, he established a customs border in the Irish Sea. But according to Unionists, this threatens the province’s place within the United Kingdom to which they are viscerally attached.

A “green channel” for the British

The unionist DUP party is refusing to take part in a new government in Belfast – led for the first time by Republican Sinn Fein after their victory in the local elections on May 5 – if this protocol is not changed. The British government, which supports the unionists, announced in mid-May its desire to legislate to modify it.

He wants to introduce a new system so that goods circulating and remaining within the UK go through a “new green channel”, freeing them from administrative procedures. Goods destined for the EU will remain subject to all checks and controls applied under EU law.

Legal or not legal?

Assuring that “the protocol works”, Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald accused the British government on Sunday of preparing to “violate international law” to modify it, believing that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to restore its weakened authority. The Government’s proposals are ‘designed to boost the ego, leadership ambitions of Boris Johnson or any of his potential successors’, she said, as Boris Johnson tries to revive himself after recently escaping a vote of no confidence from his own Conservative Party.

Britain’s main opposition party, Labour, has also accused the government of wanting to break the law. The government “seems to be developing a record in terms of breaking the law”, blasted Labor MP Rachel Reeves on Sunday in reference to the “partygate” scandal, these parties organized in Downing Street in full confinement which earned a fine to Boris Johnson.

Ireland’s threats

The British Minister in charge of Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, assured on the contrary that the government’s project was “legal” and “fair”. He explained that his aim was to “fix” the problems caused by the implementation of the protocol in order to simplify trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to appease the unionists. The British province’s closest neighbour, the EU member Republic of Ireland, has repeatedly warned against unilaterally changing the protocol.

“Publish this bill will cause a lot more problems than it will solve, not just between Britain and Ireland, but between the UK and the EU in general,” the chief warned on Thursday. of Irish diplomacy, Simon Coveney. He pointed out that since London announced its intentions, the EU’s position had “hardened”.

Brandon Lewis accused the EU of having lacked flexibility in negotiations with the United Kingdom. “I think they have been insincere in suggesting that they are flexible,” the minister told the BBC on Sunday, “in fact they have not shown the flexibility needed to solve these problems for the people of ‘North Ireland “.