Liz Truss ‘preparing to tear up Northern Ireland protocol’ | Northern Ireland

Liz Truss is reportedly preparing draft legislation that would unilaterally scrap key parts of the Northern Ireland protocol removing the need for checks on goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.

No bill is expected to be announced in the Queen’s speech on Tuesday but the UK foreign secretary is reported to have asked officials to prepare the draft, which would put the UK in breach of its treaty obligations.

As well as scrapping checks, the draft legislation would also take away powers of the European court of justice and remove all requirement for Northern Irish businesses to follow EU regulations.

Some cabinet ministers, including the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and the levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, were said to be uneasy about the high stakes involved in Truss’s strategy and the possibility of a trade war with the EU as the UK stands on the brink of a potential recession.

Cabinet sources suggested Truss’s manoeuvres were part of “leadership feather-fluttering” – hinting they were designed to put her at odds with Sunak in the minds of Conservative backbenchers. Sources close to Gove and Sunak denied they were trying to put a block on Truss’s plans.

The draft bill was initially understood to be intended to grant ministers the power in principle to override the treaty – but not necessarily to be used in practice.

However, the Times reported on Tuesday that the bill would go further than expected and explicit scrap parts of the protocol.

Such a move is expected to spark legal retaliation by the EU were it to go ahead – including the EU potentially imposing new tariffs.

Truss will argue that the election results in Northern Ireland give the negotiations a fresh sense of urgency because the Democratic Unionist party has said it will boycott any participation in a new government at Stormont until the issue is resolved.

Sinn Féin, which won the most seats at Stormont for the first time, said Northern Ireland was becoming “collateral damage” in the dispute.

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A government spokesperson said: “Our focus has been, and will continue to be, preserve peace and stability in Northern Ireland. No decisions have yet been taken on the way forward. However, the situation is now very serious.

“We have always been clear that action will be taken to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement if solutions cannot be found to fix the protocol.”

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