This is a very pertinent debate and a live issue. Understandably, many in Northern Ireland have much concern about the protocol and its effect. I recall fighting for many years, along with many others, for a United Kingdom to become a truly sovereign country once again, with Brexiteers such as me saying repeatedly, “We must leave the EU as a united kingdom.” I do not think we have.
Clearly, far too much focus was on preserving the EU single market at the expense of the UK’s internal market. Let me make it clear: no sovereign country should have barriers to trade imposed within it. Worse, Northern Ireland is subject to the European Court of Justice and to EU rules. Some say that that arrangement gives Northern Ireland the best of both worlds, but the implementation of the protocol proves that that is not the case.
An excellent video I saw recently makes five very concise points, which I think are worth repeating. The protocol has: first, created a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain; secondly, driven a coach and horses through the Act of Union, which mandates free movement of trade; thirdly, compromised the integrity of the UK, turning Northern Ireland into a semi-colony; fourthly, violated the Belfast agreement; and, fifthly, been adopted in part as a concession to the threat of sectarian violence. I find that particular part, and I have heard it said by many, especially shocking, because no threat of violence by anyone should make politicians behave in a certain way. We are a united kingdom, and the threat of violence by those who want to go back to violence will be dealt with by the full force of the law, as in any other part of the United Kingdom.
I cannot think of five better reasons to scrap the protocol. A sixth might be how the EU triggered article 16 last month. That was a belligerent act that we have to expect from the EU, which has still to accept that we have left. Clearly, a solution is needed. I urge further negotiation between the United Kingdom Government and the EU to ensure that a common-sense solution is found. I am sure that, as time passes and the EU realises that we have left, that can be reached. Finally, I am a proud member of the Conservative and Unionist party. The Union has served us well for 300 years. It must be nurtured and respected.