Boris Johnson backs off from Northern Ireland protocol threat ahead of talks | northern Ireland

Boris Johnson vows not to walk away from the Brexit deal that governs Northern Ireland, and instead to support a reform that has “the broadest possible support among communities” in a bid to cool tensions over the matter.

In a change of tone ahead of Monday’s Belfast emergency talks, the prime minister will make it clear that he has no intention of scrapping the so-called Northern Ireland protocol, which he claims is causing a significant disruption to trade between Great Britain. -Britain and Northern Ireland. .

Officials said Johnson intended to deliver a “tough message” to Northern Ireland’s party leaders. He will beg them to “get back to work” after Democratic unionists blocked the election of a speaker at the Stormont Assembly on Friday. The change means the mount cannot work.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said his party’s action was a protest against the impact the protocol was having on commerce across the Irish Sea. Such goods have a series of checks that have established a de facto commercial border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In an attempt to force the DUP to re-engage, Johnson will say that any action by his administration to change the protocol must lead to all parties coming together to form an executive and an assembly.

But after threats by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to overturn large parts of the protocol, the prime minister is expected to take a less strident tone. Johnson will tell Northern Ireland’s leaders next week that “we will always keep the door open to genuine dialogue” but that there will be “a need to act” if the EU does not allow significant changes to the way the protocol is operating in practice. . Whitehall sources also say any legislation on the matter is far off, with nothing yet presented to the cabinet.

Johnson will make it clear that the government never suggested scrapping the protocol and that there will always need to be a treaty between the UK and the EU that prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland. It will also recognize the need to protect the integrity of the EU’s single market.

However, he will call for reforms to address trade issues that UK government figures say are putting the Good Friday deal at risk. Critics say repeated threats to the protocol by UK figures have caused much more significant dangers to the historic agreement.

It happens when the US has a keen interest in the treatment of Northern Ireland. Last week, President Biden urged Johnson not to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol. A powerful delegation of US Congressional representatives is also due to fly to London within days, in another sign of concern at the White House.

Johnson will claim that “there is no disguising the fact” that the delicate balance of the Good Friday agreement was upset by protocol. He will urge the UK and EU to have a “shared aim” for trade rules in Northern Ireland to enjoy the “widest possible support across communities” when they face a consent vote at the region’s assembly in 2024.

On Saturday, Labor accused the prime minister of trying to provoke a trade war with Brussels that would exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis already gripping families. David Lammy, the Foreign Secretary, said the repeated discussions over Northern Ireland’s protocol took place “at the worst possible time”.

“Instead of finding practical solutions, they are planning a trade war in a cost-of-living crisis,” Lammy told the centre-left Progressive Britain conference. “Making Brexit work takes politics, diligence and corruption, not Boris Johnson’s wrecking ball. The people of Northern Ireland deserve responsible government, but instead we have an untrustworthy prime minister and a government willing to break international law.

“And that comes at the worst possible time. Europe is facing the most serious security crisis in a generation. There is a war on our continent. Millions fled their homes. The countries rallied in support of Ukraine. It is wrong, short-sighted and reckless to seek divisions with our European allies as we face this common threat.”

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