London, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – July 21, 2021): The UK government on Wednesday called on the EU to renegotiate post-Brexit trade deals for Northern Ireland after riots and business disruption hit the agitated province.
The European Union has long insisted that it is up to London to implement what it agreed to during its protracted Brexit divorce, and the US administration is also suspicious of British maneuvers.
London has not suspended the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which demands post-Brexit checks on goods passing through mainland Britain.
But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Parliament that instead of ad hoc grace periods for border controls, the UK was seeking a “standstill period” for the protocol, including an EU legal action.
He pleaded for a new dialogue “that deals with the problems of the round”.
“We urge the EU to look at it with fresh eyes and work with us to seize this opportunity and put our relationship on a better footing,” Lewis said.
The protocol was painstakingly negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland, effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market.
Northern Ireland, which suffered three decades of sectarian conflict until a peace deal in 1998, has been rocked by violence this year, in part against the protocol.
Many pro-British trade unionists see it as creating a de facto border in the Irish Sea with mainland Britain and say they feel betrayed.
In its proposals, Britain urged the EU to end extensive controls and focus more on goods “actually” at risk of entering its single market via Northern Ireland.
The government insisted that for all other products a light touch was needed to preserve Northern Ireland’s full status as part of the UK.
Frustrated by the new bureaucracy since the UK left the EU completely at the start of this year, several UK companies have already suspended sales in Northern Ireland or are offering reduced choice.
Retail chain Marks and Spencer has said that under the protocol’s current form, there will be “empty shelves” in Northern Ireland this Christmas.