Exclusive

Plans to 'tear up' NI Protocol to be included in Queen’s Speech

26 April 2022, 18:10 | Updated: 26 April 2022, 18:26

Andrew Marr: Essentially, the Govt intends to blow the Northern Ireland Protocol out of the water

Plans would give ministers power to ignore checks in Irish Sea

By Ben Kentish

The Government is planning to use next month’s Queen’s Speech to threaten to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol that was agreed with the EU as part of the Brexit deal, LBC has learnt.

Three government sources told LBC that the speech will include a reference to plans being drawn up to give UK ministers the power to unilaterally ditch key parts of the deal signed with Brussels in 2019.

The legislation being planned would allow ministers to suspend checks on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – a key part of the Brexit deal.

LBC understands that, while the speech will not necessarily mention a standalone new bill on the issue, it will refer to the plans being drawn up by vowing to legislate to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

UK ministers want the power to unilaterally ditch key parts of the deal signed with Brussels in 2019
UK ministers want the power to unilaterally ditch key parts of the deal signed with Brussels in 2019. Picture: Alamy

Ministers are still deciding exactly which parts of the Protocol they may give themselves the power to disapply, but one source said they were leaning towards an approach that would give them wide-ranging powers to ditch multiple parts of the agreement if required.

The plans being drawn up are even more far-reaching than the government’s repeated threat to trigger Article 16 – a move that would suspend the controversial Protocol, which requires checks on some goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Instead, the legislation being planned would bypass Article 16 and the Brexit agreement completely by superseding it with new UK legislation.

The powers would not necessarily be invoked straight away – as ministers still hope the EU will shift its position during negotiations in the coming weeks – but the reference to the plans in the Queen’s Speech is likely to be seen by Brussels as the clearest sign yet that the UK is willing to unilaterally suspend the checks. EU leaders have already warned the UK not to renege on its commitments under international law.

UK government ministers expect the latest move to trigger a fresh backlash from Brussels. One told LBC: “It’s going to cause the mother of all rows.”

Asked about LBC’s story in the Irish Parliament on Tuesday, Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin warned the UK: “I’m a great believer in adherence to international law, and most modern states are as well, most modern Parliaments are."

However, ministers are more concerned about the response from Washington.

Late last year, Joe Biden said he felt “very strongly” about the Protocol, and members of his top team have been similarly outspoken on the issue.

The UK government plans to step up diplomatic efforts to try to convince Washington of the need to makes changes to the Protocol, citing the problems it is causing in Northern Ireland.

One source suggested that progress has already been made in this area, saying the view in Washington has shifted in recent months from one of outright opposition to tearing up the Protocol to a growing acceptance that some compromise was needed - but there are still worries about what position the Biden Administration would take if the UK unilaterally ripped up the agreement.

A No10 source said no final decisions had been taken, but confirmed that the Queen’s Speech will include mention of the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement and that plans were being drawn up that, if enacted, would allow ministers to unilaterally suspend parts of the Protocol. A final decision on exactly how to proceed is likely to be made after the Northern Ireland Assembly elections next week.

DUP minister Edwin Poots attempted to unilaterally suspend Irish Sea border checks last month but his order was suspended by the High Court. UK government officials believe new legislation will be needed before UK politicians can stop the checks without the EU’s approval

A UK government spokesperson said: “We are keeping this issue under careful review, given ongoing supply chain disruption - including as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine - and wider cost of living pressures.

“It is precisely because of Brexit that we’re able to set an import controls regime which is best suited to our own needs.”

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Detective who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search for teen enters its second week

Investigator who probed Nicola Bulley offers services to Jay Slater's family as search targets remote buildings

x

'Miracle' as schoolboy, 12, 'lucky to be alive' after toppling from toilet of moving coach onto motorway

Exclusive
'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of co-star Richard Whiteley

'I just had to disappear': Carol Vorderman shares how grief led her to runaway following death of Richard Whiteley

Alan Hansan

Ex-Liverpool captain Alan Hansen discharged from hospital

Manchester Airport boss apologises after 'power spike' sees mass cancellations as he gives flight status update

Flights from Manchester Airport 'expected to resume' on Sunday as travel boss apologises for mass cancellations

The highest temperatures of the summer are expected this week

Yellow heat-health alerts signal warm weather for most of England as temperatures to hit 30C

Passengers have been queuing for hours at Manchester Airport

All flights from two terminals at Manchester Airport cancelled as passengers urged not to travel

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice

Amanda Abbington forced to call police after being bombarded with death threats from troll fans of Giovanni Pernice

Exclusive
Robert Buckland has split from the PM and Home Secretary

Senior Tory splits from PM and Home Secretary as he calls for those involved in betting scandal to be suspended

James Cleverly joined LBC for Sunday with Lewis Goodall

Conservative candidate who described Rwanda policy as ‘crap’ did so to ‘shock his audience’, Home Secretary says

Jay

Jay Slater's father and brother make emotional pleas for return of the missing teenager

Michael Gove

Betting scandal as bad for Tories as Partygate, Michael Gove warns

42C heat has hit Europe this week

Extreme weather hits holiday hotspots in Europe with 42C heat and ‘meteo-tsunami’ as Brits warned before booking trip

Live
Home Secretary, James Cleverly

General Election LIVE: Cleverly tells LBC Sunak is 'right' not to suspend Conservatives involved in betting scandal

Passengers have been queuing for hours at Manchester Airport

Passengers flying through Terminals 1 and 2 at Manchester Airport told ‘do not travel’ after huge power cut

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Jay Slater's mum issues desperate plea after Spanish police reject help in search for missing Brit