Doubts over future progress of plan to rip up Northern Ireland Brexit deal

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An anti-Northern Ireland Protocol sign near Larne Port. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The UK Government will attempt to push ahead with plans to effectively tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol despite Boris Johnson’s impending departure.

Commons Leader Mark Spencer confirmed that three days of committee stage for the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will begin on July 13.

The line-by-line scrutiny is then expected to continue on July 18 and conclude on July 19, two days before the summer recess for the Commons.

But the Bill will still have report stage and third reading to clear in the Commons and all stages in the House of Lords, which means Mr Johnson’s replacement as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister could halt its progress.

DUP MP Ian Paisley (North Antrim) told the Commons: “I welcome the fact that the Leader has not listed any business on the Northern Ireland Protocol for July 12, given that there will be celebrations about the Glorious Revolution taking place on that day and a number of Northern Ireland members would not be available.”

DUP MP Ian Paisley Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

After he welcomed the three days scheduled on the Bill, Mr Paisley asked: “Can he confirm that, as personalities are changing at the top, that the policy on this matter – the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – will not change and it’s the Government’s intention to complete this business by the end of this particular session?”

Mr Spencer replied: “I can assure (Mr Paisley) that the Bill will continue on the dates that have been announced.

“He will be aware it’s a Foreign Office Bill and the Foreign Secretary (Liz Truss) remains very much in her place and I hope he’ll be in his place to scrutinise the Bill as it progresses.”

Mr Johnson’s Government has said the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

But his predecessor in No 10, Theresa May, has led the criticism from the Tory benches and delivered a withering assessment of the legality and impact of the Bill during the second reading debate.

Mrs May made clear she would not support the legislation and warned it will “diminish” the UK’s global standing.

Other Tory MPs joined Mrs May in expressing concern, although they opted against seeking to block the Bill at second reading and instead appear likely to seek amendments.