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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

PM Johnson brushes aside criticism on ‘trivial set of adjustments’ to post-Brexit trade rules

LONDON (CU)_The British government on Monday (13 June), proposed new legislation to unilaterally scrap certain post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland. The bill will override parts of the trade treaty signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the European Union, including the removal of the requirement for customs checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK.

The move attracted widespread criticism from EU officials who say it violated international law, as the European Commission threatens to take legal action against the UK in this regard. According to European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, the existing trade rules provide businesses operating in Northern Ireland with access to the European Union’s single market for goods. “The U.K. government’s approach puts this access — and related opportunities — at risk,” he said.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin noted that the failure of a country like the UK to honour an international treaty was “very regrettable”. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was also among those who criticised the bill that was recently proposed by the British government, noting that there is “no reason” for the former EU member to make such a move. “It’s a rejection of all the agreements we reached between the European Union and Great Britain,” he said. “The European Union will react to this as one and it has the whole toolbox at its disposal.”

Nevertheless, the UK government insists that the decision to scrap key parts of the Northern Ireland protocol was justified under international law owing to the “genuinely exceptional situation”, as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss blamed Brussels for blocking a negotiated settlement on the matter. PM Johnson also brushed aside criticism of EU officials, saying the proposed changes were “relatively simple to do.” Arguing that the UK has a “higher and prior legal commitment” is to the 1998 Good Friday agreement, the British leader noted that it is “a relatively trivial set of adjustments in the grand scheme of things.”

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