Overriding the Northern Ireland Protocol would be deeply damaging
By Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & International Development
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
Here we find ourselves again. It is now coming up on two years since the Conservatives' first threatened to break international law over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Then, this time last year, we heard the continued threats over Article 16 which threatened to overshadow the G7 summit in Cornwall. And now, we are awaiting a rumoured announcement from the Foreign Secretary regarding legislation which will, reportedly, unilaterally rip up the Protocol.
This Conservative Government has presided over terrible decision after terrible decision - but going ahead and scrapping the Protocol really would represent a new low.
It would be an egregious breach of international law.
At a moment when we should be working with our European allies in face of Russia's aggression, it would ignite a diplomatic firestorm and serve as a wedge which will divide us.
Make no mistake, this would play into Putin's hands.
Liberal Democrats stand on the side of international law. We always have done and we always will do. It is a tragedy that in 2022 this has become a point of distinction between major UK political parties. Shame on the Conservatives - they are dragging our country's reputation through the mud.
The consequences of overriding the Protocol would also be deeply damaging.
The Conservatives risk plunging the country into a trade war with our closest neighbours, and largest trading partners.
This would be a bad move at any time. But right now, with inflation soaring, bills skyrocketing, and the Conservatives failing to provide the support which families desperately need, a trade war would turn a cost of living emergency into a nightmare.
From small businesses to scientists; from farmers to fishers, this would be a disaster, and one entirely of the Conservatives' making.
No responsible government would ever countenance taking such steps.
Yet the Conservatives' ideological approach means they are incapable of seeing the obvious solutions on the table.
Solutions such as a veterinary agreement and alignment on food standards. Pragmatic discussions on those options between the UK and the EU is where a resolution lies. And the Northern Ireland Assembly elections - in which our sister party Alliance saw the largest increase in votes and seats - made clear that a pragmatic approach is the way forward.
It's time for the Conservatives to stop grandstanding - and start putting the people of Northern Ireland, and of the whole of the UK, first.