Former Secretary Julian Smith questions whether Conservative MPs are using Northern Ireland ‘for other agendas’ in line with protocol

Some Conservative Party MPs are using Northern Ireland “for other agendas”, according to former Secretary of State Julian Smith.

In an interview with Politics Home’s The Rundown podcast, Smith suggested there was an “issue” about the commitment of some MPs to Northern Ireland.

“My priority as someone who really wants to defend Northern Ireland is to ensure that, over the next few weeks, Northern Ireland’s priorities and requirements are front and centre, and not used as a vehicle for the other people’s priorities,” he said. he said.

Smith served as Northern Ireland’s secretary from 2019 to 2020, helping broker the Stormont House deal, which restored power-sharing in the Assembly.

He was later sacked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after 204 days in office.

This comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Northern Ireland Protocol has become a “real problem” and must be “fixed”.

Britain and the European Union have taken further blows over the Brexit treaty after reports emerged that the Foreign Secretary is drafting emergency legislation to suspend elements of the protocol.

Boris Johnson, who negotiated the protocol by withdrawing the UK from the EU, declined to know whether the wording of the divorce pact needed to be changed when questioned on Thursday.

He argued that without changes to the treaty, which aims to prevent a hard border in Ireland, a new executive in Northern Ireland could not be formed according to the rules laid down in the 1998 peace agreement.

Smith urged the EU to “change” its negotiating position in an attempt to persuade the DUP to participate in Stormont institutions.

“The message I am trying to get across to EU interlocutors is: you may not want to switch to ERG [European Research Group of backbench Conservative MPs]but listen to Northern Ireland and political unions about what you need to give them,” he added.

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