Boris ambushed by own treaty Brexit deal under fire as Lewis scrambles to slam EU
Brandon Lewis denies Boris Johnson 'ambushed' by the NI Protocol
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The Northern Ireland Secretary insisted the European Union has been interpreting the terms of the Brexit protocol too strictly. The UK Government has been negotiating with Brussels to take off the table widespread checks on goods transiting between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The EU has maintained checks are necessary to protect the integrity of the single market despite local businesses lamenting the extra red tape and delays the checks bring in.
LBC host Tom Swarbrick told Mr Lewis: “It was madness, it was a lie for the Prime Minister to tell the DUP and Northern Ireland businesses there would be no checks down the Irish Sea, that no Prime Minister could ever stomach it. He could stomach it, he did it.”
The Tory frontbencher however rejected the allegations: “No, he wasn’t. Look at the protocol – there’s a difference between how the EU is looking to implement that protocol in order to protect the single market.
“What they class as goods that are at risk is very different from what we envisaged before they started this implementation process.
“The EU has come in and decided that basically, all goods are at risk, that was never our intention.”
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Mr Swarbrick interjected: “And the UK Government never foresaw that?”
Mr Lewis hit back: “We thought when we were talking with the EU that the reason we had goods that were at risk of going to the EU, which we always said should go through proper checks, as opposed to those at risks…
“We were never given any reason to believe the EU would want to treat all products as if [going through the UK].”
The comment prompted the LBC presenter to quip: “The Prime Minister has been ambushed by his own treaty.”
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The Northern Ireland Secretary however quickly dismissed the assessment: “No, not at all.
“As I’ve said, the EU have taken action around the implementation of the protocol that does not match the reality the protocol is seeking to achieve.
“There’s a difference between the two and what we’ve got to be clear about is this needs to be resolved because this is about the peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland.
“At the moment, the protocol that was decided to protect the Good Friday Agreement is putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk.”
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Mr Lewis also said on Sunday he reiterated the UK’s commitment to securing a suitable agreement over Northern Ireland’s status during a week-long visit to the United States.
He said: “The US see us as a hugely important, one of the strongest allies in the world, they’re keen to trade with us, what more we can do about trade around the world and trade between the UK and the US. That’s very positive.
“But also making sure we’re able to explain what are the problems with the Northern Ireland protocol, what is it we want to see in terms of finding a way through.
“We want to get an agreement with the EU but that does require the EU to show some flexibility and pragmatism for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland.”
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