PM calls for ‘more pragmatism’ and ‘less theology’ on Northern Ireland Protocol

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Boris Johnson has called for ‘more pragmatism’ and ‘less theology’ when it comes to fixing the Northern Ireland Protocol (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Boris Johnson has called for ‘more pragmatism’ and ‘less theology’ when it comes to fixing the Northern Ireland Protocol (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson has called for “more pragmatism” and “less theology” when it comes to fixing the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Prime Minister said the post-Brexit treaty is “certainly not functioning well”, and his “priority” is to find a solution.

Last month, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced that the UK intends to legislate to override parts of the deal on Northern Ireland that it struck with the EU.

Last month, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced that the UK intends to legislate to override parts of the deal on Northern Ireland that it struck with the EU (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Last month, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced that the UK intends to legislate to override parts of the deal on Northern Ireland that it struck with the EU (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

The controversial move was criticised by the union, which threatened to retaliate with “all measures at its disposal” should the UK proceed with the Bill.

The continuing row over the treaty has created an impasse in efforts to form a devolved government administration in Belfast, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refusing to join an executive unless its concerns over the situation are addressed.

Many unionists and loyalists are vehemently opposed to the protocol, claiming its requirement for checks on goods moving across the Irish Sea has undermined Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

All that we’re trying to do is to get rid of some pretty pointless and bureaucratic checks on stuff that’s going from GB to Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson

In an interview with Mumsnet, Mr Johnson said his Government is trying to dispose of “some pretty pointless and bureaucratic” measures.

“I think that the protocol is certainly not functioning well. And the last thing we want to have is a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that is simply not going to happen,” he said.

“All that we’re trying to do is to get rid of some pretty pointless and bureaucratic checks on stuff that’s going from GB to Northern Ireland.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged that he negotiated the protocol, but indicated the problem lay with its implementation – pinning the responsibility, ultimately, on the EU.

He said: “Now, I did the protocol, I negotiated it. The problem is that I thought that it would be implemented with common sense and pragmatism – because the ultimate arbiter of how to make it work, unfortunately, is the EU.

“And I just think what is needed is more pragmatism and less theology, because at the moment what you’ve got is one community in Northern Ireland – the unionist/loyalist community – feeling that there’s a border down the Irish Sea, an east-west border, and that is inflaming their sentiment. They won’t go back into government in Northern Ireland unless we fix it.

“So for me, the priority is to fix the protocol and get the Good Friday Agreement institutions up and running again. That’s what needs to happen.”

The UK is planning unilateral action to introduce separate “green” and “red” lanes for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, drawing a line between those destined to stay within the UK and those heading to the Republic of Ireland and beyond.

There will be no crossover between the channels, it is understood, with goods filtering through one or the other, depending on their intended destination.

This will override the present arrangements, whereby Northern Ireland is effectively kept in the EU’s single market for goods, with a hard border down the Irish Sea.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting