Northern Ireland businesses have spoken out against the removal of the Brexit protocol. The UK government’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has negotiated a deal with the EU on customs arrangements. In the absence of an agreement between London and Brussels, Boris Johnson could trigger Article 16 and cancel the protocol. However, Logistics UK policy manager Seamus Leheny stressed that the new customs arrangement offers Northern Ireland a “great opportunity”.
Mr Leheny told Euronews: “We have had regular meetings with the Canadian government and the US government.
“They said, you know, Northern Ireland has great potential because dual access to the EU and UK is unique in the world for that.
“And that’s why, as a business community, we haven’t said to the government, let’s get rid of, you know, the Northern Ireland protocol, invoke article 16.
“Let’s come to an agreement with the EU and make it work.”
It comes after former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers rallied around the PM over the protocol and criticized Theresa May’s Brexit legacy.
Ms Villiers told GB News’s Darren McCaffrey that Mr Johnson “started at a disadvantage” because of the deal struck with Brussels by the former prime minister.
The Tory MP added that she believed Mr Johnson would never have wanted to adhere to the protocol, given the choice.
The former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was asked: ‘Do you think this was a mistake during the referendum campaign and indeed, in fact, after in the negotiations that, frankly, the UK government, and in fact the European Union did not listen enough to the Unionists?
“But it was the best deal he could get given that he started out at a disadvantage due to the deal signed by his predecessor.
“But certainly I think we need to address the flaws in the protocol to address the concerns of many in Northern Ireland but especially the Unionist community.”
It comes after a former Irish diplomat alleged to Express.co.uk that the Irish government was “very concerned” about threats from the UK to trigger Article 16.
Ray Bassett argued that this would leave Dublin in a “very, very bad position”.