EU border row: Are EU trying to create Irish Sea border? Raab lashes out – ’Huge tensions’

Brexit: Trade expert says there will be a 'border' in Irish Sea

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A Brexit deal was signed in on December 24, 2020, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed a “very exciting” time for the UK. At the time Mr Johnson said: “I want to stress that this is a great deal for the country, for the UK. And what it means is that we in the UK can come out of the EU as one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, together.” The Northern Ireland part of the Brexit deal, dubbed the protocol, keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods, and EU customs rules are enforced at its ports in an effort to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. But since then, things have undoubtedly become more complex as tensions between the EU and the UK continue to rise and the protocol hasn’t worked out as expected.

Are the EU trying to create an Irish Sea border?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused the EU of trying to make a hard border somewhere in the Irish Sea.

Mr Raab lashed out as he told a US audience it was the EU threatening the Northern Ireland protocol and damaging the Good Friday Agreement – not the UK.

The Foreign Secretary’s comments came following a speech he delivered at the Aspen Forum in which he hailed the UK as a force for good.

His Northern Ireland remarks saw pro-Ireland congressman Brendan Boyle quit whether the UK was going to continue delaying the implementation of the protocol.

Congressman Boyle said the UK has now taken action twice on its own to delay the implementation of the protocol.

He asked whether the Government was going to continue on with its cycle of disruption.

Mr Raab fired back, saying: “It is the EU that by trying to erect a barrier down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain that is challenging the spirit of a Northern Ireland protocol and the Good Friday Agreement.

“I hope that our friends on the Hill on all sides of the house, and both houses, are equally robust in picking up when the EU undermines the agreement.”

Mr Raab said the triggering of Article 16 of the Protocol by the EU had forced “huge tensions across all communities”.

Trade agreements often contain provisions enabling either party to take action on their own if the implementation of the deal leads to bad consequences.

The EU recently attempted to trigger Article 16 of the agreement but decided to pull out at the last minute.

Mr Raab added: “The most overt political threat to the agreement and ultimately the Good Friday agreement has been the politicised way the EU has gone about things.”

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The Foreign Secretary further questioned whether the EU had made the same level of commitment as the UK on refusing to set up any hard border infrastructures.

In response to the EU threatening legal action against the UK, Mr Raab said: “We are still wrestling with the Northern Ireland protocol and trying to make it work.

“We need to make it work in the interest of all the communities.

“All we have ever done is take targeted precautionary measures that are necessary to respect and uphold the integrity of the UK, and in particular the internal market between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.”

The UK has taken the decision twice to extend grace periods in what the Government sees as attempts to navigate the unforeseen issues of the protocol.

But despite the exchanges made on Wednesday, President Joe Biden’s White House is a staunch supporter of Ireland and its cause – and a Brexit-sceptic.

The White House will undoubtedly be looking towards Lord David Frost, who is seen by many as intent on renegotiating the agreement with Ireland.

Ahead of a summit with Taoiseach Michael Martin, President Biden spoke about the “deep, deep affection Americans have, particularly Irish Americans, for Ireland”.

Mr Biden reiterated it was “strongly critical to maintain” the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, one of the most important peace deals in history.

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