Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has raised serious concerns about the British Government’s attitude to Northern Ireland following a series of political declarations which are at odds with international treaty obligations in the last week.
The Foyle MP said that the British Government’s unilateral decision to move away from the legacy framework contained in the Stormont House Agreement and today’s statement on the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol reflect a total detachment from reality where senior Ministers have chosen to ignore responsibilities that they have signed up to.
Speaking from the House of Commons today, Colum Eastwood MP said: “Today’s statement from the Secretary of State on the operation of the protocol is the latest in a car crash attempt by the British Government to distance themselves from an agreement they negotiated, campaigned for and signed up to. It is a shameless position based on political expedience rather than providing the stability that people, businesses and communities in Northern Ireland need.
“There are very clearly issues with the operation of the protocol. But rather than pursuing the obvious solution to Irish Sea checks acknowledged by businesses operating in the current environment, which is an SPS deal with the European Union, this government has decided to prioritise trade deals with other countries. They have made a political calculation that does not serve the interests or needs of people in Northern Ireland and no matter how much they bluff and bluster, it cannot be pinned on those actively working to reach a sensible resolution.
“This is part of a seriously concerning pattern from this Tory government. Earlier this week Boris Johnson and Brandon Lewis announced a unilateral departure from a legacy framework underpinned by an international treaty at Stormont House. Today they are seeking to distance themselves from their responsibilities in the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol. The Secretary of State is right to identify the problem of instability in the North but it is unfortunately his government that is at the heart of it.
“My party has proposed workable solution throughout the last five years. I acknowledge the challenges that unionists feel to their identity and the difficulties that traders have endured. That is a consequence of the hard Brexit that no one here wanted but the DUP and Conservative Party delivered. I believe that a resolution remains possible that would reduce required checks to a minimal level if the British Government steps back from its bad faith interventions and works with all of those around the table to seek an agreement on the basis of SPS alignment.”