NI Minister cannot name a single US backer of govt's Protocol overhaul

13 June 2022, 19:58

By Seán Hickey

Andrew Marr grills Conor Burns MP as he struggles to name an American politician supportive of the government's plan to scrap parts of the NI Protocol without EU support.

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

The EU have warned that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss' plans may well violate international law and plunge UK-EU relations into the dark ages.

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

Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns joined Andrew Marr from Washington D.C. to dissect the government's plans.

The government's Envoy on the Northern Ireland Protocol was in the US Capitol to meet with American counterparts in a bi to gain support for the UK's unilateral action.

The USA, led by Irish-American President Joe Biden, has long been against the government's plans to rip up the Protocol, which they believe would threaten peace on the island of Ireland.

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

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

"Have you found a single American legislator in public, prepared to support this?" Andrew asked the Minister.

"What I have found in my engagement...is an appetite to hear and understand what it is we're trying to do.

Andrew tried again to get an answer by repeating the question.

"I'm not here asking anybody in Washington...i recognise the United States not only as a guarantor of the agreement, but as a friend and ally of the United Kingdom."

"Can I suggest then that nobody there backs this?" Andrew asked, after Mr Burns failed yet again to answer the question.

The Northern Ireland Minister argued that the Northern Ireland Protocol was "the principal impediment to functioning devolved government in Northern Ireland which was born of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement", and that is why the government is acting to abolish the Protocol as it stands.