Government refuses to publish Northern Ireland Brexit plan legal text for scrutiny

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Britain’s Brexit chief has refused to publish details of his plans for changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol, despite already sharing them with the EU.

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Lord Frost said the legal text – which opposition parties want to examine – was not “a new phase or development in our position” and simply reflected the UK’s position already in the summer.

But despite claiming there is nothing new in the text, and having already shared it with Brussels, the minister said he would not make it public or allow parliament to see it.


“This is a negotiation document for the purposes of negotiations. It does not in any way change the position of the UK Government,” he said.

Lord Frost also suggested that the government had not explicitly consulted with ministers in Northern Ireland during the process of preparing the final legal text.

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Asked if he had done so, he said: “We in Northern Ireland discuss with elected politicians all the time what our position is. We did this as part of preparing the command paper.” The command paper was an earlier document published on 21 July.

Labor’s shadow Brexit minister and Keir Starmer’s former chief of staff Baroness Chapman criticized Lord Frost’s approach.

“Instead of making Brexit work, its high-handed blister and lack of planning are holding back progress and adding to uncertainty,” she said.

“It’s hurting the UK’s international reputation, there’s a risk of instability in Northern Ireland and it’s completely unnecessary. Maybe he just likes drama.”

Boris Johnson’s government negotiated the Northern Ireland Protocol two years ago, but now wants to renegotiate parts of it.

The government blames the Brexit deal for the disruption in trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which creates a new bureaucracy for businesses.


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