SNP Oppose ‘Illegally’ Changing Northern Ireland Protocol Despite Advocating Illegal Independence Referendum

As the UK prepares to overhaul parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Richard Thomson MP – the SNP’s shadow Northern Ireland spokesperson – has found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place: how can he attack the government for changing the protocol while also supporting the SNP’s plans to unlawfully ram through another independence referendum, even without Westminster’s legal required consent? Surely, if he thinks the former is illegal and should be prevented, so should the latter?

Thomson apparently hasn’t given this question much thought. Yesterday, he declared the UK’s plan is “utterly reckless and dangerous”, and suggested it breaks international law: 

“The UK Government has form when it comes to breaching international law. However, this latest threat to unilaterally scrap aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol […] is utterly reckless and dangerous. Rather than reneging on its commitments the UK government should instead be working constructively to address the particular challenges facing Northern Ireland while ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement is protected.” 

Yet even ignoring – as the EU appear to be doing – the fact that Article 13.8 allows for changes if the protocol is disrupting everyday life, it’s surprising to see Thomson suddenly develop an acute understanding and respect for the letter of the law. Speaking last month on the SNP’s plan to hold another referendum, Thomson said:

“Everybody knows there is a referendum in the works, it’s priced in […] I am confident the legislation will be laid in order to allow for a referendum in 2023. I have full confidence in the Scottish Government that it will deliver on that.”

Which has much the same tone as the government’s line on the Northern Ireland Protocol in relation to the EU. Nicola Sturgeon has now confirmed the SNP is prepared to steam ahead with that referendum legislation even without the permission of the UK Government – as is actually required under international* law:

“if we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland we must forge a way forward, if necessary, without a section 30 order.”

First he condmens the UK’s supposed threat to “breach international law“, now his own leader is preparing for an illegal referendum. Thomson must be furious.

*Scotland is a separate nation from England, don’t bother emailing.
mdi-timer 14 June 2022 @ 14:32 14 Jun 2022 @ 14:32 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Labour to Vote Against Plans to Override Parts of NI Protocol

Sir Keir has this afternoon announced Labour will vote against the government’s new Brexit laws scheduled to be published on Monday – which will give the UK the power to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol – on the grounds that “it is the wrong approach” and would “breach international law“:

“I don’t think that the remaining issues under the protocol are incapable for resolution. So I don’t think that this legislation is the way forward. I think it will breach international law for starters… I also think it will be an impediment to the negotiations. We need a negotiated settlement to this.

When I think of all the issues, all the challenges that have been overcome in the last 20 years I don’t think that the remaining issues of the protocol are incapable of resolution”

He added that while there were “practical problems” with the protocol, a negotiated settlement could be achieved through “guile and hard work“. What that actually means is anyone’s guess.

mdi-timer 10 June 2022 @ 15:20 10 Jun 2022 @ 15:20 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU Immediately Threatens Trade War After Truss Confirms Protocol Overhaul

It took less than an hour for the EU to start beating its chest over the Northern Ireland Protocol. At the time of going to pixel, Liz Truss is still up at the despatch box fielding questions over the planned changes, and already European Commission VP Maroš Šefčovič has issued a statement essentially threatening a full on trade war:

“Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the Protocol as announced today by the UK government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal. Our overarching objective is to find joint solutions within the framework of the Protocol. That is the way to ensure legal certainty and predictability for people and businesses in Northern Ireland.”

Read the full statement below:

Read More

mdi-timer 17 May 2022 @ 13:56 17 May 2022 @ 13:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Truss Confirms Plan to Overhaul Northern Ireland Protocol

Liz Truss has just confirmed the government will set out draft legislation overwriting the Northern Ireland Protocol for the sake of preserving the Good Friday Agreement “in all its dimensions“. Unilateral action the EU is inevitably threatening would “break” international law…

While Truss stressed she is “open to a negotiated solution” with the EU, months of deadlock have finally come to a head, and unless the protocol is changed, power sharing in Stormont will be politically impossible. Truss stressed the changed would be “consistent with our obligations under international law”:

“The Northern Ireland protocol does not have the support necessary in one part of the community in Northern Ireland… practical problems have contributed to the sense that the east-west relationship has been undermined… We need to restore the balance in the agreement.”

The legislation will create a “green channel” for British goods entering Northern Ireland which will not be shipped out of the UK, tearing up the red tape currently in place on those exports. Businesses will also have a choice between aligning with UK or EU standards in a dual regulatory regime. The UK will also be able to set tax and spend policies across the entire country. The new bill will be set out in the next few weeks, before summer recess. “We cannot afford to delay any longer”…

mdi-timer 17 May 2022 @ 12:56 17 May 2022 @ 12:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
‘Promoted’ Burns Allowed to Report to PM Directly

With the PM heading to Northern Ireland to try and solve the protocol issue and speak to party leaders, you would hope the PM’s SW1 Northern Ireland team would be united at this politically challenging moment. Unfortunately it looks like the Northern Ireland Office isn’t entirely harmonious…

During Lobby today there was some confusion about Minister of State Conor Burns’s time in the US last week. According to the PM’s spokesman he didn’t visit as ‘Minister of State’, he went with a new title as the “PM’s Special Representative to the US on the NI Protocol”. While this technicality may sound unimportant, ‘special representative’ allows Burns to report directly to the PM rather than via his departmental boss, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis. Guido’s since verified this hierarchy of Conor Burns reporting directly to the PM, though a source batting for Brandon Lewis emphasised he is still a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Office, and as such does still very much report to the Secretary of State on the wider range of issues relating to his primary position, as well as continuing to report to Lewis Brandon on the protocol and US relations. Meow…

mdi-timer 16 May 2022 @ 13:08 16 May 2022 @ 13:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Northern Ireland’s Protocol Problems Roll On

Spotted in the background of the BBC’s Northern Ireland coverage yesterday afternoon. And Brandon Lewis thinks his problems are running away with him…

mdi-timer 12 May 2022 @ 17:00 12 May 2022 @ 17:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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