Brexit clash on horizon as Boris Johnson vows to end ‘ludicrous’ trade barriers | Politics | News

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Boris Johnson has pledged to end the “ludicrous barriers” to internal trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Speaking to BBC NI’s Spotlight for a film on Northern Ireland’s centenary, Mr Johnson made big promises in seeking a resolution to the chaos that has unfolded with the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. The Prime Minister said he would do whatever necessary to end barriers created by the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The PM said: “What we’re doing is removing what I think of as the unnecessary protuberances and barriers that have grown up.

“And we are getting the barnacles off the thing.”

Boris added: “And sandpapering it into shape.”

A Contested Centenary will be broadcast on Tuesday evening and includes contributions from First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

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The prime minister went on to explain how the way the EU Withdrawal Agreement had been interpreted did not conform with the fact that the agreement specifically mentions Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market.

Mr Johnson stressed the “ludicrous” checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland had never meant to be anything more than small checks.

He said the UK economic market’s integrity is “paramount”.

Unionists in Northern Ireland have demanded the protocol be scrapped altogether and have gone a step further by piecing together a legal challenge that says the deal breaches the UK’s Act of Union.

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As part of the UK and EU’s Brexit trade deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol means European checks and trade rules apply to goods entering the province from Britain.

Northern Ireland also remains part of the EU’s single market under the Protocol, which avoided the creation of a land border in Ireland.

It comes after Lord Frost met with Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president, on Thursday to discuss issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, he later told the Financial Times after the meeting he was convinced solutions to “minimise” the Protocol’s impact could be found.

Mr Šefčovič said: “What we need is the good faith approach and the proper implementation of all the commitments [already] undertaken, so we see the system working, and then we can look at the risks which are associated with different measures being applied.”

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And on Sunday Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin defended the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol and warned people of “very serious harm” if Brexit continues to be weaponised.

The Taoiseach made the comments at his party’s annual 1916 commemoration at Arbour Hill Cemetery in Dublin on Sunday.

Violence has broken out in Northern Ireland in recent weeks, with unionist gangs angered in part over the Irish Sea border implemented after Brexit.

Mr Martin said the recent violence in Northern Ireland is what could happen when “sectarian tensions are left to grow” and “encouraged by political events.”



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