By Sean Mulryan – Current Affairs Editor
The Northern Ireland Protocol is a “good deal for Brussels, but a bad deal for the UK” according to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s conversations with Conservative MPs on the 1922 Committee. The DUP leader addressed the 1922 Committee of the Conservative and Unionist Party with the intention to increase pressure on the UK government to take appropriate action with regards to the NI Protocol. In his address he spoke on how “…the Protocol would lead to the economic and constitutional divergence of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom”.
“This was a welcome opportunity to outline to the Conservative Parliamentary Party the hugely damaging and destabilising impact of the Protocol upon Northern Ireland and to reiterate the need for imminent action by HM Government.
In short, it is a good deal for Brussels but a bad deal for the United Kingdom.Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
The Northern Ireland Protocol has been a hugely controversial topic of conversation emerging from the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union. The main function of the NI Protocol was to avoid a hard border whilst the UK left the EU. This meant that Northern Ireland could remain a unique actor by existing in EU customs territory and the single market for goods. Whilst it avoided the necessities of a hard border, it gave rise to trade barriers upon the Irish Sea and split Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The issue has been slightly alleviated by concessions on the part of the EU, exampled last month by Brussels altering its rules to enable the continuation of medicine supply from Britain to Northern Ireland. Sir Jeffery Donaldson was found to be dissatisfied with these concessions, stating that “The current temporary grace periods may be shielding Northern Ireland from the full economic devastation of the protocol, but at a current cost to our economy of £2.5 million each day, businesses across the United Kingdom cannot sustain the continued imposition of the protocol.” Business owners within the UK eagerly anticipate a solution, with Roger Pollen of the Federation of Small Businesses in Northern Ireland conveying there is a renewed “degree of urgency” to find a solution.
In October of last year, the European Commission proposed its own set of tailored solutions in an effort to resist the difficulties resulting from Brexit. EU Commission Vice-President Maros Šefčovič said: “We have put a lot of hard work …in response to the concerns raised by the people and businesses of Northern Ireland. We are looking forward to engaging earnestly and intensively with the UK government, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.” Following on from this, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has faced further calls to trigger Article 16. DUP MP Ian Paisley jr. spoke about how, “It is now up to Liz Truss…in the short time that she has now been handed this, she is now going to take the actions that were promised in July.” After replacing David Frost as the figurehead in the negotiations, Ms Truss is scheduled to meet with Maros Sefcovic this week and make an announcement related to the NI Protocol on Friday.