Britain and the EU reached a post-Brexit trade deal in December last year – after almost nine months of fraught negotiations. Announced on Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “jumbo Canada-style” deal and declared: “All our red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved. “Everything that the British public were promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal.”
The deal is without a doubt a huge triumph for the Prime Minister, who in 2019, won a thumping majority at the general election with the promise “to get Brexit done”.
However, while Brexit might be done, Ashford councillor and Labour Leave’s general secretary Brendan Chilton warned it is not “over”.
Mr Chilton told Express.co.uk: “I am still very concerned about the deal Boris Johnson negotiated.
“Part of our country has essentially been carved off: Northern Ireland.
“There is a border down the Irish Sea and people trading from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are experiencing extreme paperwork.
“We are also seeing violence in Belfast and other cities, and while I don’t attribute this to the Brexit deal, I do think it is a contributing factor.”
The Brexiteer added: “I think Boris Johnson needs to take a firm line.
“He needs to show some leadership, bring parties together and explore how we can bring Northern Ireland back under British administration, custom and regulation.”
The origins of the recent protests in Belfast have been attributed in part to resentment among the loyalist community at the Northern Ireland Protocol – part of the treaty that saw the UK leave the EU.
However, the police’s recent decision not to prosecute senior lawmakers from Irish republican party Sinn Fein for breaking COVID-19 rules, in order to attend the funeral of high-profile former Irish Republican Army member Bobby Storey, has also been cited as lighting the tinderbox.
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On Friday, officials failed to reach a breakthrough in talks on Northern Ireland trade rules and said that contact would continue over the coming weeks.
The Thursday dinner meeting between European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and UK Brexit minister David Frost took place a month after the EU started legal action against its former member country, arguing that Britain had not respected the conditions of the Brexit agreement and violated international law.
A British statement said that “a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them”.
Lord Frost insisted that “there should be intensified contacts at all levels in the coming weeks”.