As part of the new trade deal signed with the EU, Northern Ireland remains tied to the European single market, meaning some restrictions on trade with the rest of the UK. However, this has infuriated unionists who argue it undermines the Good Friday Peace Agreement.
Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s first minister and DUP leader, is demanding the protocol be scrapped.
Over the next two years, Britain is due to hand the EU £20 billion in Brexit ‘divorce’ payments, with more to follow in later years.
However, Mark Francois, chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, is demanding this be made contingent on compromise over Northern Ireland.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph he said: “Since we left the transition period the EU’s attitude has been increasing bellicose.
“First they criticised our ‘British’ vaccine and then attacked us for not giving them enough of it; then they triggered Article 16, in some overnight spasm, to create a hard border they had sworn to avoid – and now they are petulantly refusing to ratify a trade deal which it took a year to negotiate.
“As Brits, we traditionally honour our obligations but you have to ask yourself why are we continuing to pay this Danegeld to people who only treat us with open contempt in return?”
Earlier this month Britain infuriated the EU by extending a number of Northern Ireland grace periods, during which full checks are not imposed on trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, until October.
The move was condemned by the EU which is threatening to take legal action.
Lord Frost, the Cabinet Minister leading UK-EU negotiations, said the decision was taken to “address the direct and often disproportionate impact that aspects of the protocol are having on citizens of Northern Ireland, contrary to its intended purpose”.
In January the EU briefly threatened to suspend the Northern Ireland protocol during a row over coronavirus vaccine supplies.
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7.55am update: Brexit superwoman Liz Truss tipped for promotion after lining up £200bn in UK trade deals
Liz Truss deserves a promotion in a rumoured cabinet reshuffle after lining up post-Brexit trade deals worth more than £200billion, insiders have said.
But one Westminster source who knows her well has advised Boris Johnson to keep her in her current crucial role as International Trade Secretary to enable her to finish the job – while simultaneously touting her credentials to become Britain’s next woman Prime Minister.
Ms Truss – Tory MP for South West Norfolk – recently returned from India for talks aimed at thrashing out a deal which experts have estimated could be worth a total of up to £100billion.
7.35am update: Hope for Commonwealth trade bloc to rival EU as GDP set to surpass Europe’s
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has raised hopes that the Commonwealth could become a trade platform as well as an organisation of friendly nations and allies.
Speaking to the Sunday Express in the aftermath of the Queen leading celebrations of Commonwealth Day last week, Ms Truss has emphasised that the organisation is now a key part of her drive to agree trade deals around the world.
She said: “The Commonwealth is home to some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.
Deeper trade ties with our Commonwealth friends and allies will help deliver jobs and prosperity across all parts of the country and help us build back better from this awful pandemic.
“Negotiations are already under way with Australia and New Zealand, and we will start talks on a more advanced deal with Canada later this year.”