Boris Johnson planning to override EU withdrawal agreement on Northern Irish border checks
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Boris Johnson planning to override EU withdrawal agreement on Northern Irish border checks

BORIS JOHNSON is reportedly drawing up new legislation to circumvent the UK’s Brexit withdrawal agreement on Northern Irish border checks. 

According to a report published late on Sunday, the UK government is readying a new section of the internal market bill, which has been designed to deliberately override parts of the withdrawal agreement signed with the EU back in January. 

The bill is set to impact some of the legally binding special arrangements in place for Northern Ireland. 

Specifically, it will undermine parts of the withdrawal agreement and give greater priority to seamless trade between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.  

Some of the clauses will also override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed last year, in a move that could pave the way for a return to a hard border. 

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The Internal Market Bill would also go against the agreement reached on state aid in last year's Northern Ireland Protocol.  

Under the Protocol agreed, the EU retained the right to oppose any UK Government subsidy in Northern Ireland under EU competition rules designed to ensure a level playing field among member states.  

The Internal Market Bill would change that, forcing UK courts to follow the new UK law rather than last year's EU deal. 

A UK government source has told the Guardian the bill is part of a wider set of preparations being put in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The changes would ensure the free movement of goods within all of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

However, there are  concerns that the movie could lead to the collapse of the Brexit trade talks at what is a crucial juncture.  

As part of a concerted effort to pressure Brussels into conceding to the UK’s demands on fishing rights and state aid, Mr Johnson is also set to issue an ultimatum declaring a post-Brexit trade deal must be agreed by October 15, otherwise Britain will walk away for good. 

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The UK Prime Minister is also set to insist no deal would be a “good outcome” for the country once he sets the deadline. 

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free-trade agreement between us and we should both accept that and move on,” he will reportedly say. 

The reports have been met with dismay with Ireland’s foreigen affairs minister, Simon Coveney, warning that any change would be “very unwise”. 

Michelle O’Neill, the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, went further in her condemnation of the potential plans. 

As the Brexit negotiations between the EU and British Government enter their eighth round this week in London, any threats of a roll back on the Irish protocol would represent a treacherous betrayal which would inflict irreversible harm on the all-Ireland economy, and GFA,” she said. 

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“With clock ticking towards the end of the transition period, time is of the essence to conclude negotiations on future economic partnership & fully implement Irish protocol.  

"Our priority is to avoid any border in Ireland & protect the peace process, GFA & all-Ireland economy."

 

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SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, meanwhile, warned that the UK Government was in danger of undermining the Good Friday Agreement and causing irreprable damage to the UK’s status in the world with what he viewed as one of the most “reckless” acts concerning Ireland by a British government “in a long long time”. 

He told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, he hoped the reported plans were “just posturing, because if they try to do this at the same time as trying to convince people in Scotland and Northern Ireland about the future of their Union, well they may as well forget about that as well, because people here will see this as a tremendous act of bad faith”.