12 May 2022, The Tablet

The Northern Ireland protocol must be fixed

Brexit fallout


Even with 38 Bills listed to be enacted, the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday failed to stir the blood of the government’s own supporters, while energising its opponents by doing nothing to relieve the cost of living crisis. A much-threatened Bill that was missing, however, was one to amend or abolish the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Northern Ireland is the only place in the United Kingdom sharing a land border with the European Union. The Irish Republic belongs to the European single market, which mainland Britain left as part of the Brexit process. Northern Ireland was left half in and half out – thereby creating an almost insoluble political problem. Goods entering the EU single market have to be checked to ensure they comply with EU regulations. These checks either have to be conducted at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, or, if that border is to remain open, at the sea border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland. The alternative – the United Kingdom as a whole remaining inside the single market – was rejected as not Brexity enough.

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