Arlene Foster criticises EU over Northern Ireland Protocol
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Boris Johnson’s Government and the European Union reached stalemate over the Northern Ireland Protocol as political instability is growing. Following the local elections, the unionist DUP has refused to nominate the speaker of the Northern Ireland’s House amid concerns over the Protocol.
Their main fears are the checks border in the Irish Sea is exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis on Northern Island and further distancing it from Great Britain. But by refusing to elect a speaker, the DUP is making the government dysfunctional, plunging the country into a political crisis. Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster says the EU is on a dangerous collision course with the UK.
Speaking to GB News, Ms Foster said: “The European Union is keeping their heads in the sand and hoping it will go away.
“But it will not go away.
“We’ve seen that now unfortunately through the fact that we don’t have a Northern Ireland Assembly operating.
“This isn’t a surprise this afternoon that the Speaker of the House hasn’t been elected. That was expected.”
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson made it clear his party would not budge, saying: “We are a party that keeps its word.”
“We have given our word to these people, we will hold to that word until these issues are properly addressed and resolved.”
Reflecting on her own political experience as former first minister of Northern Ireland, Ms Foster said: “It happened back in 2019 when I was the First Minister as well.
“The speaker refused to be elected at that stage by Sinn Fein, so it happens.”
She added: “The Assembly can’t function without a speaker. That’s why it needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.
“But there isn’t the will to make it happen and that’s the fundamental problem.”
Phone talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Maros Sefcovic ended in a stalemate, with the EU refusing to renegotiate the agreement.
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When asked about the possibility of the UK unilaterally scrapping the protocol, Ms Foster said: “Under the WTO rules, they’re only able to take action which is proportionate to the harm that is caused by removing the protocol.
“And there won’t be any harm by removing the protocol because there’s minimal risk to the (EU) single market from goods coming across from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.
“Very few of those goods go into the European Single Market.
“And those goods that do that can be checked remotely. They don’t need to be checked at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“They can be checked through digital processes and alternative arrangements.”
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