NI Secretary signals UK government has no intention to introduce law to suspend protocol elements

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis talks to UTV about the violent scenes in the region.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis. Credit: PA

The Northern Ireland Secretary has signaled that the UK Government is not planning on introducing legislation next week which could waive elements of the protocol.

Speaking to ITV's Peston, Brandon Lewis said the focus of the government and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was on negotiation with the EU on how to deal with issues arising from the post-Brexit trade deal.

It had been reported that an announcement would be made in the Queen's Speech on how the government was going to deal with the protocol.

However, Mr Lewis hinted that a new bill was not immediately on the table.

"Our focus is on resolving the issues with the protocol, ideally we want to do that by agreement with the European Union," he told Peston.

Pressed again on whether the announcement would come next week, he said, "No, Robert, we've not said that.

"What we've been clear about is at the moment, the protocol is causing problems in civic society, it's causing problems with the Good Friday Agreement. Our duty to the people of Northern Ireland is to resolve those issues.

"Yes, we want to do that with the EU and that's what Liz Truss has been focused on."

Following the interview Mr Lewis tweeted to say the government wanted to address the "outstanding issues and we want to do that by agreement with the EU".

"But as we have always made clear, we will not shy away from taking further steps if necessary," he added.

He said they would do "whatever it takes to protect the Good Friday Agreement" adding the protocol was "not working for people and business in Northern Ireland".

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The protocol forms part of the Brexit deal struck between the UK government and the European Union.

Its aim was to avoid creating a border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

It sees Northern Ireland continue to follow EU rules, and thus has created a de facto sea border with GB, which has caused controversy.

Keeping the land border open was essential with both sides stating that they were committed to upholding the 1998 peace agreement, more commonly known as the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Foreign Secretary and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney spoke on the phone regarding the protocol as well as the war in Ukraine.

In a tweet, Liz Truss said she was 'clear' with Mr Coveney that the protocol 'was not working'.

Mr Coveney said he emphasised the need for cooperation between the UK and EU and that unilateral action was 'not the way forward'.