Businesses in Northern Ireland have spoken out against the scrapping of the Brexit protocol. The UK Government’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has been thrashing out a deal with the EU over the customs arrangements. Failure to reach a deal between London and Brussels may see Boris Johnson trigger Article 16 and scrap the protocol. However, Policy Manager at Logistics UK, Seamus Leheny has stressed the new customs arrangement have provided Northern Ireland with a “great opportunity.”
Mr Leheny told Euronews: “We’ve had regular meetings with the Canadian government with the US government.
“They’ve said you know, Northern Ireland has great potential as having dual access to the EU and the UK be unique in the world for that.
“And that’s why as the business community, we’ve not been saying to the government, let’s scrap, you know, the Northern Ireland protocol, invoke Article 16.
“Let’s reach an agreed outcome with the EU and make it work.”
It comes after former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has rallied around the Prime Minister over protocol and slammed the legacy of Theresa May on Brexit.
Ms Villiers told GB News’s Darren McCaffrey that Mr Johnson ”started at a disadvantage” due to the deal struck with Brussels by the former Prime Minister.
The Conservative MP added that she believed Mr Johnson would never have wanted to sign up to the protocol, given the choice.
The former Northern Ireland Secretary was asked: “Do you think it was a mistake during the referendum campaign and indeed, actually, afterwards in the negotiations that, frankly the UK Government, and indeed the European Union did not listen to Unionists enough?
“Unionist concerns about what might well happen in any future deal?”
Ms Villiers replied: “I believe certainly that under the Theresa May government they didn’t listen sufficiently to Unionist concerns.
“I think under Boris, I think he recognised from the start that the Northern Ireland Protocol was a very difficult compromise.
“Yeah, I feel pretty confident it wasn’t something that he actually wanted to sign up to.
“But that was the best deal he could get given that he started at a disadvantage because of the agreement signed by his predecessor.
“But certainly, I think that we must remedy the defects within the Protocol to respond to 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 is “very worried” about the UK’s threats to trigger Article 16.
Ray Bassett has argued that to do so would leave Dublin in a “very, very bad position”.