Boris’s new Brexit law unveiled: The 4 key changes it will make
Liz Truss defends decision to change Northern Ireland Protocol
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Ministers originally agreed to the Northern Ireland protocol in October 2019. However, since then the Government has argued that the special Brexit deal created trade barriers between Belfast and the rest of Great Britain. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss first introduced proposals for new legislation last month, infuriating European Union (EU) officials.
On Monday, the Government unveiled its plans, adding there is “no other way” of safeguarding essential interests of the UK.
The legislation was signed off by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Cabinet last week, and will be debated and voted on by Parliament imminently.
Ms Truss has previously insisted that the deal – dubbed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – will not scrap the protocol altogether, and will instead make limited changes.
So, what are the key changes it is proposing to make?
The legislation introduces so-called “green” and “red” channels to make trade easier for goods arriving into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
It will remove unnecessary costs and paperwork for businesses trading within the UK.
At the same time, it will ensure full checks are conducted for goods entering the EU, as part of its single market.
The Government also wanted to introduce a dual-regulatory system, which would allow firms in Belfast to choose whether they meet UK or EU trading standards.
Ministers demanded the change as they’re unhappy with an aspect of the current protocol, which stated goods needed to comply with EU rules even when they will never enter the single market.
To help avoid British goods moving onto the EU market, the Government said it’s came up with a “robust set of safeguards”.
Traders would be held liable for following the rules, and there would be “stringent penalties” for anyone who breached the regulations.
Agrifoods would only be allowed to move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland through trusted traders.
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To ensure open and fair competition among nations in the bloc, Northern Ireland was still subject to EU state aid rules.
The Government wanted to change that, as it claimed it limited the level of support available in Belfast compared to the rest of the UK.
While it would maintain the existing arrangements on taxes, the Government wanted to give ministers the freedom to adapt or rewrite rules.
For example, that could mean that British-wide cuts to VAT are applied to the country.
Finally, Downing Street wanted disputes – between the UK and EU – to be managed through an independent arbiter when no agreements can be reached.
At present, any disagreements are adjudicated by the European Court of Justice; something the British Government said damaged the sovereignty many Brexit-backers voted for.
Ms Truss said it was “very clear” that the Government is “acting in line with the law” with regards to any changes.
However, the EU has warned it would “need to respond with all measures at its disposal” if the UK went ahead with the legislation.
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