Ministers positive they can resolve Northern Ireland trade dispute
Ministers are ‘very positive’ they can resolve bitter Northern Ireland dispute with EU over post-Brexit trade
- Britain and Ireland held talks yesterday including the Northern Ireland Protocol
- UK ministers said the energy crisis had pushed the two sides closer together
- The approach could mean the Government drops its threat to rip up the protocol
Ministers say they are ‘very positive’ they can resolve the bitter dispute with the EU over post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.
Britain and Ireland held cordial talks yesterday on a range of issues, including the Northern Ireland Protocol, raising fresh hopes that an agreement can be reached with Brussels.
In a boost for Liz Truss after a challenging week, UK ministers said the energy crisis had pushed the two sides closer together, while Dublin welcomed the new positive approach.
It could mean that the Government drops its threat to rip up the protocol – which imposes strict checks on goods shipped across the Irish Sea – through a new law currently before Parliament.
Speaking after a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘I want to be very positive about the chances of getting a negotiated solution.
Speaking after a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘I want to be very positive about the chances of getting a negotiated solution’
‘I believe we’re all working in good spirit with good co-operation to deliver on the changes that are required for the protocol to be fixed or the issues within the protocol to be fixed.’
Asked what had changed, Mr Heaton-Harris said: ‘There are lots of very important issues now that bind us closer together, because we’re all suffering from the energy shock that has been brought about by Putin’s illegal war on Ukraine, and we all want to work together to make sure that Ukraine comes out of this battle victorious.’
Junior minister Steve Baker added: ‘We’re all going to some considerable lengths to create an atmosphere of friendship and willing to make progress, recognising one another’s legitimate interests.
‘The whole dynamic of politics in Europe has been radically transformed by the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and other issues. And I think today we’ve had a very, very positive conversation in a new spirit of friendship, and that’s what we need to focus on.’
Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said: ‘I think the conversations we’re having now with the British Government certainly suggest to me that we are in a different space now, one we haven’t been in for quite some time.’
He said there had been a ‘real effort to reach out’ from the new UK ministers in recent weeks, adding: ‘This isn’t some kind of phony friendship.
‘There’s genuine goodwill and an effort to try to move on a relationship that’s been stumbling for a few years.’
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