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UK will do ‘whatever necessary’ to reform Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, says minister

  • UK will do ‘whatever necessary’ to reform Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, says minister
    After a resounding election victory for Sinn Féin, the DUP has said it cannot take up its position as deputy first minister until Brexit checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain are removed. UK will do ‘whatever necessary’ to reform Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, says minister
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Europe
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Raab warns stability in Northern Ireland is being ‘imperilled’ by dispute over protocol agreed by Johnson.
After a resounding election victory for Sinn Féin, the DUP has said it cannot take up its position as deputy first minister until Brexit checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain are removed.

The UK government will take “whatever measures are necessary” to reform Northern Ireland’s Brexit protocol, the justice secretary, Dominic Raab, has pledged, amid fears the newly elected Stormont assembly could be put on pause until Christmas.

At the same time, the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, has ruled out any imminent prospect of a referendum on a united Ireland.

After a resounding election victory for Sinn Féin, the DUP has said it cannot take up its position as deputy first minister until Brexit checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain are removed.

Raab told Sky News on Sunday: “If anything, the outcome in Northern Ireland from those elections makes it clear it [a protocol fix] can’t be put off.”

He suggested it would be dealt with in the coming “weeks and months”, warning that stability in Northern Ireland was being “imperilled” by the dispute over the protocol – which was agreed by Boris Johnson’s government as part of the Brexit divorce from the EU in 2019.

Lewis told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Northern Ireland programme the election results were “significant”, but pointed out that the three unionist parties still have more seats than nationalists.

London’s threat to take action will increase tensions between Westminster and Brussels over the protocol, with the UK saying all options remain on the table – including the possibility of unilaterally scrapping elements of the deal.

That could trigger a breakdown in relations between the UK and Europeanthe EU with Brussels previously threatening a trade war if such unilateral action was taken.

The war in Ukraine has switched the political focus across Europe and while talks between UK and European Commission officials have been under way since last October the momentum has stalled.

Lewis last week indicated that the UK would not take immediate legal action over the protocol, saying the UK preferred to resolve the issue through negotiation.

Sinn Féin’s historic victory in Northern Ireland has resulted in it overtaking the DUP as the largest party in the region for the first time since Northern Ireland was formed more than 100 years ago.