Labour 'stopped people in NI killing themselves', Shadow NI Sec declares

13 June 2022, 19:14

By Seán Hickey

The gulf between how this Conservative government and the 'previous generation' handled Northern Irish politics could not be wider, the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary argues.

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has unveiled plans to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol but the EU claimed the move would break international law.

The UK has tabled domestic legislation to unilaterally override the parts of Brexit's Northern Ireland Protocol that have introduced trade barriers in the Irish Sea.

Read more: Govt unveils plans to tear up NI Brexit deal but EU claims it breaks international law

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle hit out at the plans, arguing that the UK is shooting itself in the foot by not working to an agreement with the EU.

Read more: Boris warns EU against trade war as he dismisses NI protocol changes as 'trivial'

He pointed to a "New Zealand veterinary agreement" and Turkey's "customs arrangement" struck with the EU in recent times as agreements the UK is denying itself by acting unilaterally on the Protocol.

"All of these things are negotiable in a diligent way that involves statecraft, but this government seems completely incapable of getting something across the line," Mr Kyle told Andrew Marr.

"Are you in favour of this sea border?" Andrew asked the Labour MP.

Mr Kyle acknowledged that "the protocol is not ideal, it does need to be improved" but acting without EU agreement is not the way to go.

"They are taking a wrecking ball – not to the EU – but to their own deal."

The Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary then contrasted the government's attitude to Northern Ireland with that of the Labour government that achieved the Good Friday Agreement.

"The previous generation...that generation delivered peace. They stopped people in Northern Ireland killing themselves.

"This government under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss cannot even get a prawn sandwich across the Irish Sea."

He went on, arguing that the current impasse over the Protocol "can be solved by negotiating with our partners", but it requires "statecraft, diligence and graft" – things Mr Kyle argues the current government doesn't have.