Talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol appear largely to have come to a halt. The Foreign Secretary signalled in March the triggering of Article 16, which critics of the Protocol argue would send a clear message to Brussels the UK will not put up with the deal, would be put on hold because of the invasion of Ukraine.
Today, on April 28, Ms Truss spoke to EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and was “clear that the Protocol is not working”.
She insisted in a post on Twitter: “The UK Government’s top priority will always be to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”
But Brexiteer Ben Habib said more significant than Whitehall’s considerations for Northern Ireland was its “fear of the EU”.
The former Brexit Party MEP added that whether a war was being waged in the east or not, the Government would have done – and will continue to do – its upmost to delay progress in talks on the Protocol until it can shift the blame for their eventual failings elsewhere.
He told Express.co.uk: “I would not be surprised (indeed I expect) them to play this long until Sinn Fein is the largest party in Stormont.”
Northern Ireland elections are being held early next month, on May 5, which could shape the future of post-Brexit talks.
Sinn Fein has stressed the Protocol “is the law” and must be adhered to.
A reasonable victory among their ranks would, Mr Habib argued, produce “irresistible pressure” and could result in UK ministers backing down on the protocol.
Instead: “In reality, they [that is, the Government, now led in these negotiations by Ms Truss] would have caused the destruction of the UK.”
Many leading Brexiteer have accused the Protocol – and the politicians who have as yet pushed back against attempts to remove it – of annexing Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
They point, in part, to the requirement for checks on goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK – that is, for checks on goods sent from one part of the UK to another.
But while the Government has been accused of not doing enough to prevent Northern Ireland from being pushed away from the Kingdom, Mr Habib stressed he would not stop “fighting” for the Protocol to be scrapped, and to keep Sinn Fein from becoming Northern Ireland’s largest party.
He said: “I aim to fight our Government every step of the way.
“I will not go down without fighting this all the way to my last breath.”