Brexit panic: Boris urged tear up ‘dangerous’ EU deal as ‘Brussels red tape’ laid bare
Boris Johnson on Brexit trade deal 'teething problems'
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The leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), Jim Allister, warned Northern Ireland risks being shackled to EU policy on medicines and vaccines from 2022. Urging Boris Johnson’s Government to ensure no countries in the UK will have to endure the EU’s vaccination strategy proven to be a fiasco, in the future, Mr Allister called for the controversial Brexit protocol to be ripped apart.
The TUV leader was told by Health Minister Robin Swann in the Northern Ireland Assembly that the country was only part of the UK’s vaccine rollout because of the protocol.
Mr Swann said: “The UK Government and the EU Commission agreed a 12-month period to allow industry time to prepare for the regulatory and supply chain changes that will be required to comply with the protocol by January 1, 2022.
“A long-term approach was also sought to ensure no barriers to the movement of medicines into Northern Ireland.”
But Mr Allister hit back arguing that for the grace period, Northern Ireland “would be tied to the failed and failing EU policy on vaccination”.
He added: “The success of the UK vaccination programme is a telling reminder of just what the benefits of Brexit are to a liberated United Kingdom.
“Freedom from bureaucracy and Brussels red tape meant the UK was able to lead the world in protecting its citizens.
“This answer from minister Swann is a stark warning that the dangers of the sea border to Northern Ireland are not just constitutional.
“Gone are the days when people used to argue that the protocol would result in us having the best of both worlds.
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“We now need to face up to the fact that the protocol would be, if fully operational as it is set to be next year, quite literally bad for your health.”
It comes as the Government last week unilaterally extended grace periods limiting bureaucracy linked to the Northern Ireland Protocol until October. They had been due to expire at the end of March.
The UK also temporarily lifted the protocol’s ban on plants potted in soil in Great Britain from entering Northern Ireland.
The European Commission is preparing to take legal action against the Government, accusing it of breaching the terms of the protocol, which governs trade to Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
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Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has branded the Commission’s reaction to the UK move to delay full implementation of new Irish trading arrangements as “hysterical”.
Mrs Foster expressed confidence the Government would defend any legal action brought by the commission.
She said: “As I understand it from the Secretary of State (Brandon Lewis) last week, the Attorney General has indicated that the small moves that were made by the United Kingdom Government are legal and therefore any legal action that will be taken I’m sure will be fought.
“I hope that doesn’t end up being the case.
“I think there has been a bit of a hysterical reaction actually to some very small moves.
“You know the position of my party.
“We believe that we need to see the protocol replaced because it’s the architecture of the protocol which is causing all of these difficulties.”
Mrs Foster said she did not detect a willingness from the Commission to engage with the Government to resolve issues related to the protocol.
She said: “I don’t see any evidence of any negotiations ongoing at this present moment in time.
“I see a lot of megaphone diplomacy actually.
“It would be really good if there were some listening ears for a change, in relation to the damage that is happening here in Northern Ireland, from the European Union, and there was a real and tangible engagement in relation to the problems that we have.”
The protocol is a post-Brexit arrangement designed to keep the Irish border open by ensuring Northern Ireland continues to follow the EU’s trading rules.
It achieves that by keeping Northern Ireland aligned to various EU rules, requiring checks on goods arriving into the region from Great Britain.
The DUP has vowed to overthrow it over fears it damages the integrity of the UK internal market and Northern Ireland’s place in it.
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