Politics

Northern Ireland Protocol change will not break law, insists minister  

UK plans to unilaterally scrap some of the post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland will not break international law, a minister insisted this morning, as Boris Johnson prepares to hold crunch talks with Stormont political leaders. 

The Prime Minister will visit Belfast today as he tries to plot a path to getting the powersharing Executive up and running amid a standoff at the Assembly over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Johnson will meet with the leaders of Sinn Fein, the DUP and other political parties to try to sooth tensions as he prepares to approve a law which would give ministers the power to override key parts of the Brexit agreement.

The PM has said he will “always keep the door wide open to genuine dialogue” with Brussels but if the EU does not show more flexibility on making changes to the protocol then “there will be a necessity to act”.

The EU has warned the Government it could be in breach of international law if it acts on its own, but Rachel Maclean, a Home Office minister, has insisted “the UK is a country that always lives up to its international legal obligations”.  

Meanwhile, Julian Smith, the Tory former Northern Ireland secretary, cautioned against unilateral action and said: “I think we do need the EU and UK negotiators to spend some positive time in a locked room and come up with a deal. We need a political deal, we need a fudge.”

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