by Amanda Ferguson
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND, May 16 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday the government needed an “insurance” option to unilaterally scrap post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland. North, at the risk of reigniting a trade war with the European Union.
Boris Johnson has declared that the European Union must make concessions and agree to renegotiate in depth the protocol on Northern Ireland, which Brussels categorically refuses.
The prime minister said a bill allowing parts of the protocol to be suspended unilaterally was only needed if talks with the EU on improving its operation failed.
“We would very much like to see this done in a consensual way with our friends and partners, ironing out some of these issues,” Boris Johnson told reporters.
“But for that to be done, for the assurance, we have to simultaneously resort to a legislative solution.”
Johnson agreed to the protocol in 2019 allowing Britain to leave the EU’s single market and customs union without checks being reimposed at the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland border, a essential element of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement that ended three decades of violence.
But the plan effectively introduced a customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland, sparking outrage from many unionists.
The British Prime Minister said that the five main parties in Northern Ireland also believe that a renegotiation of this protocol is necessary.
“None of the parties – I spoke to all five parties just now – none of them like the way it works, they all think it can be reformed and improved,” he said. .
Earlier, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party had a ‘pretty rough’ meeting with Boris Johnson on Monday, where she was told that taking unilateral action on post trade rules -Brexit for Northern Ireland would be a mistake.
“We told him directly that the proposal for a unilateral act to legislate at Westminster is wrong. It seems absolutely extraordinary to us that the British government is proposing to legislate to break the law,” she said.
Also speaking to the press, Democratic Unionist Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson said he hoped the government would make the right decision and help restore consensus in Northern Ireland.
(Report Amanda Ferguson, with the contribution of Kylie MacLellan, Graham Fahy and William James, French version Augustin Turpin and Jean-Michel Bélot)