Northern ireland protocol

Will there be resignations over Northern Ireland?

10 min listen

Rishi Sunak continues to try to get his MPs onside when it comes to the government’s deal with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Some Eurosceptics have warned that the Prime Minister could see resignations from his government if this is handled badly, with some touting Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s name. What’s the latest? James Heale talks to Fraser Nelson and Isabel Hardman. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

Boris Johnson fires a warning shot to Sunak

Rishi Sunak is once again facing an unhelpful intervention from one of his predecessors. As the Prime Minister attempts to finalise a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol – spending the past few days meeting both with the DUP and the president of the European Commission – Boris Johnson has issued a warning. A source close to Johnson told the Sunday Telegraph that ditching the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in favour of a new Brexit deal would be a ‘great mistake’. Speaking this morning on the BBC, government minister Penny Mordaunt sought to downplay the comment – describing it as ‘not an entirely unhelpful intervention’. Some MPs supportive of Sunak

Is Sunak heading for trouble on the Protocol?

There has been excited chatter in recent days that a breakthrough on the Northern Ireland Protocol could be imminent. Last week, the UK government and Brussels agreed a new technical arrangement on sharing trade data, which was heralded as a ‘new basis’ for talks, following a meeting between EU chief negotiator Maros Sefcovic, and James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary. Since then, there has been speculation that the two sides could enter the ‘tunnel’ – the intensive end stage of negotiations – as soon as this week. There is a desire on both sides to find an agreement on changes to the Protocol could ahead of the 25th anniversary of the

Starmer is plotting mischief over the Northern Ireland Protocol

Speaking in Belfast this morning, Keir Starmer offered ‘political cover’ to the Prime Minister over any change to the Northern Ireland Protocol. A new deal with the EU is thought to be imminent – and Labour sees the chance for mischief. Starmer said it is ‘time to put Northern Ireland above a Brexit purity cult’ and that ‘we can find ways to remove the majority of checks’ through new solutions, adding that ‘there are legitimate problems with the Protocol and these must be recognised in any negotiations’. Starmer’s speech is well-timed His comments are a recognition of the Protocol’s relevance over the next few months. Both the EU and the

The Northern Ireland Protocol: the real fight is yet to come

Last night’s vote on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill didn’t turn into an open revolt from Tory MPs – but that’s not to say that there isn’t big trouble for the legislation. A chunk of Conservatives abstained, some of them having made very clear in the debate on the second reading of this legislation that they could not support it. Theresa May, Julian Smith, Simon Hoare and Bob Neill all raised serious concerns in their speeches and did not vote. Other Conservatives who did support the legislation still said they were uncomfortable with certain aspects of it. Robin Millar, who voted in favour, nonetheless told MPs that ‘I have concerns

Cummings throws a spanner in the Brexit works

Is Dominic Cummings about to derail the government’s plans for a new Northern Ireland protocol? That’s the concern inside government as Boris Johnson’s former adviser shows that he still has the ability to change the political weather from afar. On Tuesday night, there was renewed hope that a solution could be found between the UK and EU on the Northern Ireland protocol. David Frost’s speech in Lisbon was less confrontational than expected and had received cautious praise from diplomats for its more constructive passages. However, as the European Commission prepares to present its proposals for easing the current checks on businesses trading across the Irish Sea, a spanner has been thrown in the works in the

David Frost’s protocol diplomacy

As a general rule in post-Brexit politics, when David Frost makes a public intervention on the Northern Ireland protocol, it tends to dampen rather than soothe UK-EU relations. Frost, charged with improving the protocol, is a divisive figure in Brussels who is seen to catch flies with vinegar rather than honey. His speech was expected to be an escalation in the current war of words between the two sides. In the end, the talk itself was slightly less confrontational than expected. Frost effectively declared the Northern Ireland protocol dead and called on the EU to work with the UK Frost effectively declared the Northern Ireland protocol dead and called on the EU to

Boris’s Brexit deal isn’t worth sacrificing Northern Ireland for

There will be chaos at the borders. Food will run out at the supermarkets. Travellers will face long queues, and companies yet another round of disruption. As the UK lays the groundwork for breaking with the Northern Ireland Protocol, we will hear plenty of scare stories about how it might mean losing the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. There is an element of truth in that, of course. The EU may well decide that if we are not sticking to the Protocol then the free trade deal has to go as well. But there is a flaw in that argument, and it is not exactly a minor one. In

Can the DUP survive?

A 36-person strong electorate will meet in Belfast this Friday to elect Arlene Foster’s replacement as leader of the Democratic Unionist party.  The choice facing the assembled ranks of the party’s MPs and members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) is, amusingly, between two men who share the same office in Lisburn: the Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Edwin Poots, the Stormont agriculture minister. Such is the DUP way, the two candidates are under orders not to speak to the media or undertake any form of public-facing promotional activity for the duration of the contest. However, a document sent by Poots to his colleagues setting out his vision for the

The Northern Ireland Protocol is untenable

The process that delivered us the Northern Ireland Protocol already seems to have been rewritten in official memory. It suits most parties involved to pretend the outcome was inevitable. For Brussels, it helps them defend an arrangement designed to ‘protect the peace’ which is instead corroding loyalist support for the Belfast Agreement. For those in London, it is infinitely preferable to pretend that they were honouring the UK’s ‘obligations under the Good Friday Agreement’ rather than own one of the most abject episodes of British diplomacy in recent memory. It also helps to shift the blame onto preferred targets. So Boris Johnson gets execrated for lying to unionists about his

The EU’s vaccine opportunism will not be forgotten

At first, it sounded like empty rage. The European Union had spent all week making wild statements about controlling vaccine exports — even challenging the notion of contract law. On Friday, it has started to act on its words and announced it will introduce controls on vaccines made in the EU — potentially giving itself the power to stop Pfizer sending Britain the vaccines it has paid for. Worse, when it made the announcement, it included Northern Ireland. The EU was set to use the ‘last resort’ mechanism in the recently-agreed Northern Ireland Protocol, Article 16, that can unilaterally impose a land border: something both the UK and EU spent years trying to