Boris warned UK ‘integrity’ dealt ‘irrevocable’ blow as EU ‘punishing’ Britain over Brexit

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DUP MP Ian Paisley claimed the Prime Minister had taken a “shortcut” with Northern Ireland in order to get Brexit done. He criticised Mr Johnson’s government for negotiating a “very good deal” for the EU that allows the bloc to punish the UK for “daring to Brexit”. The MP for North Antrim added that the Protocol, which he described as being “undemocratic”, has united “every single unionist representative across the peace” against it, regardless of whether or not they were in favour of Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol since October 2021.

It was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK left the EU, allowing Northern Ireland to remain within the EU’s single market for goods.

But the controversial Protocol faced criticism because a border was effectively created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea, leading to delays, supermarket shortages and increased costs for businesses in Northern Ireland.

Mr Paisley said that the “most impoverished families will suffer as a result”.

He told “Our integrity as a union has been damaged, and I suspect that damage is irrevocable.

“No elected unionist representative in Northern Ireland actually supports the protocol.

“So the protocol has united the entire unionist family against it.

“And you’ve got to remember that some of those parties were pro-Brexit and some of them were anti-Brexit.

“But the protocol has united every single unionist representative across the peace in opposition to the impact the protocol is having.

“The whole point is, it’s undemocratic.

“We now, as citizens of the UK, have no say whatsoever in how the Protocol operates or how it was administered by the EU, because we’ve got no say in EU affairs.

“Yet EU has complete say over things like, for example, VAT in Northern Ireland.

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“Take the energy crisis that we’re going through – the British government plans to reduce VAT on fuel, it’s not known for sure but we all suspect that Northern Ireland will be prevented from benefiting from that because under EU regulation Northern Ireland cannot reduce its VAT threshold.

“So the most impoverished families will suffer as a result.”

Speaking about Mr Johnson’s negotiation tactics, Mr Paisley said: “I think the UK didn’t negotiate well enough for the whole of the UK.

“Boris Johnson wanted to get Brexit done and the shortcut was ‘well that’s a bit of a problem, let’s leave it til later’.

“Well we’re now in that later phase and it’s really up to the Prime Minister to be focused and to tell his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: ‘sort this problem out now and don’t wait any longer.'”

He added: “This is not a good deal for the United Kingdom but it’s a very good deal for the EU, because the EU is able to punish the United Kingdom at one level, for daring to Brexit.

“And on another level, it’s able to divert trade that Northern Ireland companies have been doing with GB and force those companies to do trade with companies across the EU instead.

“So it’s not increasing our business, it’s simply diverting us from doing trade with other parts of the United Kingdom and forcing us to do trade with the EU instead.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss last week began a fresh round of negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

After the talks, she told the BBC: “We’ve had constructive talks with the EU.

“We’re now going to go into intensive negotiations to work towards a negotiated solution to sort out these very real issues for the people of Northern Ireland.”

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