Brexit: There’s a fundamental con trick being played over Liz Truss’ Northern Ireland Protocol Bill says Lord Empey – Belfast News Letter

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The peer, who has been a strong critic of both the DUP and Tory government’s handling of Brexit, said that when it comes to the “Sunak vs Truss debate, there’s no doubt there’s a difference of emphasis” between the two when it comes to the Protocol.
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But he dismissed the current “tittle-tattle about what went on in Cabinet”, adding “what that actually means in practice, we’ll have to wait and see – we can’t read their minds”.
Instead, he suggested people should consider the details and the timing of the Protocol Bill, saying that “I think it’s the wrong place to put your money” if you want to defeat the protocol.
He told the News Letter: “There is a fundamental confidence trick that’s being played with all of this.
“The Protocol Bill does have some meritorious things in it, but it’s full of what we call Henry VIII clauses. It gives power to ministers to do certain things, but they’re not compelled to do them.
“The bill was introduced to the Lords on July 21.
“There is no date yet set for its second reading.
“But it certainly isn’t showing up in the business in September. So it’d appear the second reading won’t take place until probably mid-October.
“Even assuming the house was prepared to agree to the bill, which is very unclear, the earliest you could see anything would be the end of the year – and no guarantee of that!”
In the meantime, the lack of a government Executive in Northern Ireland means that the tenures of the existing ministers (who remain in post for the time being, albeit without a first minister or deputy to oversee them) stand to run out by late October.
This means the British government would be obliged to call an election for late 2022 / early 2023, said Sir Reg – adding that such an outcome risks handing Sinn Fein an even better result than the last time, damaging the unionist mandate further.
In short, the bill may be far from the salvation which many unionists have been holding out for, he believes.
Sir Reg ended by saying that his own view is that scrapping the protocol outright may be impossible, and that only “meaningful negotiations” with the EU can remedy its faults.
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