Truss damaging UK's reputation with NI Protocol 'threats', Labour MP warns

17 May 2022, 16:51

Britain's ability to sign trade deals will be damaged if it unilaterally dumps the Northern Ireland protocol according to Nick Thomas-Symonds
Britain's ability to sign trade deals will be damaged if it unilaterally dumps the Northern Ireland protocol according to Nick Thomas-Symonds. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By James Bickerton

Britain's ability to sign trade deals will be damaged if it unilaterally dumps the Northern Ireland protocol, according to Nick Thomas-Symonds.

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On Tuesday Foreign Secretary Liz Truss introduced a new bill which would radically amend the protocol. 

The Government said its preferred solution would be to reform the protocol with the EU's consent, but the new legislation would be used as a backup. 

However, the EU has rejected the UK's demands and says it will "respond with all measures at its disposal" if the Government goes ahead unilaterally, raising fears of a trade war. 

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Shadow International Trade Secretary warned Shelagh Fogarty that this could make it harder for Britain to sign post-Brexit trade deals. 

He said: "Our international reputation and trade go hand-in-hand. 

"I want to be the international trade secretary signing deals around the world. 

"But countries will only sign trade deals with us if they think we are a country that keeps its word.

READ MORE: Liz Truss sets out bombshell plans to tear up Northern Ireland post-Brexit deal

"That's the damage that is done if there is unilateral action of the kind Liz Truss is threatening in the Commons today. 

"What is unreasonable is to threaten to breach international law with all the damage to our international reputation that comes with." 

Speaking in the House of Commons Liz Truss said the protocol needs to be reformed to deal with the "grave situation in Northern Ireland".

The DUP are refusing to re-engage with power sharing at Stormont unless the Protocol is scrapped. 

Earlier this month Sinn Fein came out of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections the biggest party, giving them the right to nominate the First Minister when a new administration is agreed. 

READ MORE: Ripping up Northern Ireland protocol would be 'fraught with danger', says Andrew Marr

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