Brexit: Frost discusses missed ‘opportunity’ to end NI Protocol
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Former Brexit Minister and UK chief negotiator Lord Frost highlighted that the Northern Ireland Protocol can be scrapped by a vote in Ulster and called for Boris Johnson to unilaterally ditch the Protocol. Speaking at a Policy Exchange event on Wednesday, April 27, he said: “Our relations with the EU cannot endlessly be bound up with Northern Ireland.
“The inability to reach a durable Protocol settlement means that a huge, indeed an unbearable, amount of weight has been put on Northern Ireland’s fragile politics as a result.”
He added that the Northern Ireland Protocol was “designed to be temporary” and can be revoked by a Northern Ireland Assembly vote in 2024.
Under the Protocol, the Assembly must vote periodically to give continued consent to Articles 5 to 10, with the first vote due in December 2024.
This allows Northern Ireland to decide whether to remain or leave the agreement.
Express.co.uk asked readers for their opinion on whether Northern Ireland should vote to scrap the protocol.
In a poll that ran from 11am on Thursday, April 27, to 1pm on Friday, April 29, Express.co.uk asked: “Should Northern Ireland vote to scrap protocol in 2024 after Frost highlighted clause?”
A total of 1,069 people responded with dozens of comments left below the accompanying article.
The dominant response – winning by a landslide of 96 percent (1,022 people) – was “yes”, Northern Ireland should vote to scrap the protocol in 2024.
A further four percent (45 people) said “no” and just two people said they did not know.
The majority of commenters were in agreement that the Northern Ireland Protocol should be scrapped.
Username Hickories wrote: “Vote next month not 2024 do it asap.”
Username Sapientem said: “There should be a referendum in Northern Ireland immediately to determine if the people wish to stay in the Northern Ireland Protocol or not. Then everyone must abide by that decision.”
And username Expert said: “If it’s going to take that long for the government to scrap it then yes they should.”
Lord Frost claimed that the Protocol had been the only way to deliver Brexit at the time Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019.
He said: “At that point, we would have seen, at best, a second referendum, quite possibly Brexit taken off the agenda for good, and who knows what consequences in our domestic politics.”
The deal created an agreed trade border in the Irish Sea and resulted in Northern Ireland complying with EU regulations.
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Lord Frost expected alternative, long-term arrangements to be made before 2024.
He said: “I expected that we would do so much domestic reform and change within Great Britain between 2020 and 2024 that it would be self-evidently attractive to Northern Ireland to end the Protocol and put some other arrangements in place.”
He added: “The strains it is causing are actively damaging the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement.
“It is therefore surely obvious, indeed it is an inescapable logical conclusion, that the Protocol can’t be operated as it stands. It has to be renegotiated or removed.”
Some commented that the Protocol was unfair to Northern Ireland.
One user, ikharvey said: “This should NOT have been plonked upon Northern Ireland in the first place.”
Username SanjayP wrote: “The Northern Ireland Protocol has failed. It has put the Good Friday Agreement in jeopardy.”
And username Michael Taylor said: “Boris and his government should have never accepted the false premise that there couldn’t be a hard border in Ireland. Indeed there is still a hard border for currency, tax, policing, indeed for many things.”
Meanwhile, username BalancedPragmatist said: “It’s up to the people of Northern Ireland as to whether or not they vote on the protocol – be it to scrap it or keep it.”
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