Brexiteer Daniel Hannan uses EU’s own argument on trade barriers against them
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Brexiteer Daniel Hannan has taken aim at the EU and insisted if trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would undermine the Good Friday Agreement, then barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would break the 1801 Act of Union. Under the current terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland will continue to enforce the EU’s custom rules on trade beyond the transition period, while the rest of the UK will not.
The arrangement known as the Northern Ireland protocol, ensures there will be no need for a hard border down the Irish Sea.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this week tabled a controversial bill to change the protocol agreed in the Brexit deal in January – which has prompted a furious backlash from EU officials and his own MPs.
However, Mr Hannan a former Tory MEP, argued the current arrangement in the withdrawal agreement is already flawed and contradicts Article VI of the 1801 Act of Union.
The Act states Great Britain and Ireland should be “entitled to the same privileges” in respect to trade, manufacturing and navigation in all ports and places in the UK.
Mr Hannon wrote on Twitter: “Is it really credible to claim that trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the Republic would breach the Belfast Agreement but that trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would not.
“For what it’s worth, trade barriers between GB and NI seem to me to constitute a clear violation of Article VI of the 1801 Act of Union – arguably a far more serious breach of law.”
The Government put forward the legalisation to change the protocol this week despite admitting it would break international law.
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic accused the Government of an “extremely serious violation”.
Downing Street insist the measures are simply a “legal safety net” to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland peace process.
Mr Johnson has set a deadline of October 15 for an agreement to be reached, before the UK walks away from the negotiating table.
Leaders in the European Parliament said they would not agree to a trade deal if the withdrawal agreement is changed.
The Prime Minister and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove spoke with around 250 MPs on Friday ahead of a Commons debate on Monday.
Writing in the Telegraph, the Prime Minister said Brussels would use an “extreme interpretation” of the Northern Ireland Protocol to impose “a full-scale trade border down the Irish Sea” that could stop the transport of food from Britain to Northern Ireland.
He said: “Let’s remove this danger to the very fabric of the United Kingdom.
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“Let’s make the EU take their threats off the table. And let’s get this Bill through, back up our negotiators, and protect our country.”
Mr Gove told the BBC: “We’re doing our part – generously – to help protect the EU’s own single market, but we’re clear that what we can’t have even as we’re doing all that is the EU disrupting and putting at threat the integrity of the UK.
“These steps are a safety net, they’re a long-stop in the event, which I don’t believe will come about but we do need to be ready for, that the EU follow through on what some have said they might do, which is in effect to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.”
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