It’s on EU! Brussels ‘weaponised’ Northern Ireland to ‘punish’ UK for Brexit, says expert

Brexit ’no excuse’ for Northern Ireland violence says Villiers

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As clashes continue in Northern Ireland, commentator and historian Ruth Dudley Edwards claimed the EU had used the state to put maximum pressure on the UK to agree a Brexit deal. Although there were alternatives to the protocol, Ms Dudley Edwards insisted Boris Johnson had been forced to accept a deal that impedes trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland due to his predecessor. Despite agreeing a deal, the commentator also warned Brussels had chosen to interpret the customs rules as strictly as possible to inflict “maximum damage” to the UK.

While she also attacked the EU over its intransigence during Brexit, the commentator also claimed Theresa May had “caved” in to their demands during her time as Prime Minister.

Writing for the MailOnline, Ms Dudley Edwards said: “During Brexit negotiations, the EU, encouraged by the Irish government, cynically set out to weaponise Northern Ireland to scupper a deal or at the very least heavily punish the British.

“There was a perfectly feasible way through smart technology and a Trusted Trader scheme to have a virtually invisible border on the Irish/EU side.

“But Theresa May and her negotiating team caved into the ludicrously exaggerated warnings about how a land border would lead to a resumption of violence and the death of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

“By the time Boris Johnson took over in December 2019, the pass had been sold.

“And, to get a Brexit deal that worked, he had to agree to an arrangement known as the Northern Ireland Protocol which impedes trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

“Out of sheer spite, the EU has chosen to interpret the rules as inflexibly as possible and cause maximum disruption.”

Amid concerns over the peace process in Ireland, Mrs May put forward the Northern Ireland Backstop.

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Under this, Northern Ireland would’ve had access to both the EU and UK markets while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Following Mrs May’s resignation, Boris Johnson scrapped the agreement and replaced it with the Northern Ireland protocol.

While this also avoided a hard border on the island of Ireland, it also left the country in the EU’s single market and applying some of its customs union rules.

Since Brexit, traders in Northern Ireland have suffered issues for goods due to the added customs checks.

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Amid these issues and the subsequent clashes between unionist and loyalists groups, some within Westminster have called on the protocol to either be scrapped or altered.

Following the clashes in Belfast, political leaders have called for calm, while the UK dispatched Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to talk to groups.

Mr Lewis said: “I absolutely recognise the challenge and the sense of identity challenges that people in the unionist community have felt around the protocol and the practical outworkings of it.

“That’s why we took the actions we took just a couple of weeks ago to help businesses and consumers here in Northern Ireland.

“Obviously, I also appreciate people have talked about the decision last week by the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), the situation with people coming out of Covid and as the PSNI has said today, pure criminal activity and encouraging young people to take up criminal activity.

“All of these things come together in a way which is completely unacceptable.”

In a joint statement from Micheal Martin and Mr Johnson, they said: “The way forward is through dialogue and working the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

“They agreed that the two governments would continue to stay in contact.”

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