During several months of tense Brexit negotiations, the UK and EU agreed the Northern Ireland Protocol which would ensure there are no new checks on goods crossing the border between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). The aim of the protocol was to avoid a hard border between the two countries; ensure the integrity of the European Union’s single market for goods; facilitate unfettered access for NI goods to the GB market; and allow the inclusion of NI goods in free trade agreements between the UK and third countries.
It means Northern Ireland has effectively remained in the EU’s single market for goods, while England, Scotland and Wales have left.
But huge rows have erupted between the UK and EU, with Britain insisting the protocol simply isn’t working and demanding large parts of it be overhauled, something Brussels continues to stand firm on.
The UK has threatened to trigger the Article 16 safeguard mechanism that has the potential to tear up the deal completely, but the EU has warned of severe repercussions if this was to happen.
Now Jayne Adye, director of cross-party campaign group Get Britain Out, has written a letter to Sir John Redwood and aimed at all Tory MPs, urging those “elected on a promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ to deliver on that promise”.
She wants pressure ramped up on the Government to “implement the opportunities of Brexit faster than the current schedule, which will not see the whole of the UK set free from EU rules for years to come”.
Ms Adye acknowledges the crisis in Ukraine “deserves urgent attention” but this “must not come at the detriment to other elements of government policy within the UK”, adding: For far too long we have lived with historic EU laws, regulations and policies which were not all designed to be advantageous for the UK”.
The director of the campaign group wrote: “Get Britain Out, recently produced a research document on 11 key areas where EU regulations are STILL in force in the UK, which the Government must revoke or reform.
“The original document was sent to the Prime Minister and Ministers in December 2021, and has now been updated.
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“While the Government has made a start on discussing some of the reforms mentioned, the pace of change has been painfully slow and the UK is still widely aligned with the EU.
“Most notable on the list of issues still to be resolved is the situation in Northern Ireland where it seems the Government has decided protecting the ‘Union’ of the United Kingdom is no longer a priority worthy of serious attention or urgent action.
She added: “This lack of action to conclude the opportunities of Brexit simply cannot continue.
“Many Conservative MPs have rightly devoted a great deal of time to putting pressure on the Government regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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“However, in recent months this support has waned with more popular issues in the news, as well as the war in Ukraine.”
Ms Adye warned the UK’s commitment to Northern Ireland and those who live there “cannot afford to be blown away with the wind, and efforts must be redoubled to protect the place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.
The Get Britain Out director concluded her letter by urging MPs to “put pressure on the Prime Minister to deliver a proper Brexit for the entire United Kingdom as soon as possible”, describing the protocol as “deeply flawed”.
This comes with the Court of Belfast ruling the protocol is in fact unlawful, delivering a huge blow to unionists who regard the post-Brexit arrangements as a border down the Irish Sea.
The legal challenge had been another aspect of unionist action against the protocol, taken in the name of TUV leader Jim Allister, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib and Baroness Hoey among others.
But the Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed challenges pursued in the name of unionists and Brexiteers from across the UK.
Senior judges upheld the ruling from June by Mr Justice Colton, throwing out arguments the protocol broke the terms of the 1800 Acts of Union and the 1998 legislation that underpins the Good Friday Agreement.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson insisted the legal challenge will now proceed to the Supreme Court, and has continued to insist the impact of the protocol is undermining the position of Northern Ireland within the UK.