Germany and Ireland denounce Boris Johnson’s attempt to abandon the Northern Irish protocol | Brexit

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Boris Johnson has been warned there is ‘no legal or political justification’ for his plans to overturn the Northern Ireland Brexit deal, in an extraordinary joint denunciation by the Irish and German governments.

With senior officials already warning Johnson that he risks breaking up the union by going ahead with the plan, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Irish counterpart Simon Coveney issue a rare joint statement condemning the UK for ‘unilateral breaking of an international agreement. ”.

Write in the Observerthe two ministers suggest Johnson’s determination to override the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which he agreed to two years ago, risks undermining the ‘rules-based international order’ at the moment where the continent tries to deal with Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

The two ministers say recent Northern Ireland assembly elections, which resulted in a majority of members backing the protocol, showed support for the current arrangements. They add that the EU has been and will continue to be “flexible and creative” in dealing with the issues that have hampered trade between the region and Britain.

“Unfortunately, the UK government has chosen not to engage in good faith with these proposals,” they write. “Instead of the path of partnership and dialogue, the British government has chosen unilateralism. There is no legal or political justification for unilaterally breaking an international agreement reached only two years ago. Introducing a bill this month will not solve the protocol challenges. Instead, it will create a new set of uncertainties and make it more difficult to find lasting solutions.

“In these trying times, as Russia wages a ruthless war in Ukraine, breaking with our European peace order, the EU and the UK must come together as partners sharing common values ​​and commit to maintaining and strengthening the rules-based international order.

“We urge the UK government to step back from its unilateral approach and show the same pragmatism and willingness to compromise that the EU has shown. By working together – in partnership and with mutual respect – common ground can be found and challenges, however difficult, can be overcome.

The intervention shows a coordinated effort within the EU to support Ireland in the dispute, as well as a hardening of Germany’s position on Brexit with the arrival of the new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz. It will heighten concerns that Johnson’s decision to go ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which many legal experts say breaches international law, will spark a trade war with the EU as inflation continues to hit.

As the UK proposals passed their final parliamentary vote last week, more than 70 Tory MPs abstained or were allowed to miss the vote. The proposals were also criticized as violating international law by former Prime Minister Theresa May. Other figures not to vote include former Northern Ireland secretaries Julian Smith and Karen Bradley, and Johnson’s former attorney general Geoffrey Cox.

Theresa May: Northern Ireland Protocol Bill ‘will diminish UK in the eyes of the world’ – video

Some MPs are already considering ways to prevent the government from rolling out the plans, which effectively nullify the existing deal. A plan, drawn up by Sir Bob Neill, the chairman of the justice committee, would give Parliament a veto over whether or not to roll out the bill’s new powers.

Anger has been mounting in Dublin since the bill was published. Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, last week accused the UK government of risking a breakup of the UK with its handling of Northern Ireland. Varadkar, who is due to succeed Micheál Martin as taoiseach later this year, agreed to the principles of the protocol in talks with Johnson in 2019.

He said last week that the UK government’s actions were disrespectful. “I think it’s a strategic mistake for people who want to keep the union, because if you keep forcing things on Northern Ireland that a clear majority of people don’t want, that means more many people will turn away from the union,” he added. told the BBC. “It is a particular policy on the part of a government which claims to want to defend the union.”

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has claimed that proposals put forward by the EU to solve some of the trade problems created by the protocol would create more unwanted bureaucracy.

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