THE UK will table a bill to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the coming weeks, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Liz Truss told MPs on Tuesday that the Good Friday Agreement is “under strain” due to the effect of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and the lack of support for the Protocol in unionist communities.

Truss insisted that the UK Government’s plans to legislate domestically are “legal in international law” and claimed they would set out the basis for this “in due course”.

The plans would create “green” and “red” lanes for goods between Great Britin and Northern Ireland, with those items destined to stay within the UK area not having to undergo EU-checks.

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EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic has said he has “signficant concerns” about the plans set out by Truss in her statement to parliament.

The SNP have said the plans will not be taken seriously by the EU, whilst the DUP have hit out at an EU “power grab” and warned that if the protocol is kept, power sharing in Northern Ireland is “not coming back”.

Truss told the Commons: “Our proposed solution would meet both our and the EU’s original objectives for the protocol.

“It would address the frictions in east-west trade while protecting the EU’s single market and the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

The National: Truss, right, with EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic, leftTruss, right, with EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic, left

“The challenge is that this solution requires a change in the protocol itself as its current drafting prevents it from being implemented.

“But the EU’s mandate does not allow the protocol to be changed. That is why their current proposals are not able to address the fundamental concerns.

“In fact, it’s our assessment that they would go backward from the situation we have today with the standstill.”

Truss also said in her statement that all five parties in Northern Ireland “agree on the need for changes to the protocol”.

Truss said the practical problems include producers facing “onerous” restrictions due to sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions, adding in the Commons: “These practical problems have contributed to the sense that the east-west relationship has been undermined.

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“Without resolving these and other issues we will not be able to re-establish the executive and preserve the hard-won progress sustained by the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement. We need to restore the balance in the agreement.”

It is understood that the UK would pull the Bill in the event of all of its aims and objectives being met by the EU, while the option of invoking Article 16 will remain on the table.

In response to Truss’s statement, SNP shadow spokesperson for Northern Ireland Richard Thomson, said that a “stable agreement” needs to be reached which works for all parts of the UK.

He added: “With a crisis in Ukraine, the last thing we need to be doing is thrashing around pointlessly here in a snare of our own making.

The National: Richard Thomson is the SNP's shadow Northern Ireland spokespersonRichard Thomson is the SNP's shadow Northern Ireland spokesperson

“Domestic legislation, even if passed, will not wash away the need to comply with international commitments already made and neither is it going to change the fact that if the UK is neither in nor aligned with the single market and the Customs Union, it's still going to create a trade border that needs to go somewhere.”

Thomson added that the government’s plans are “unlikely to be taken seriously” in Belfast and Brussels. He said: “There's absolutely no reason why it should be taken seriously in this place either.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told the Commons that the statement is a “welcome if overdue step”.

He added: “As the legislation progresses we will take a graduated and cautious approach.

“We want to see the Irish Sea border removed and the Government honouring its commitment in the New Decade, New Approach agreement to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market. The statement today indicates this will be covered in the legislation.”

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Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood claimed Truss has confirmed “she is going against the majority” of citizens in Northern Ireland who support the protocol, and called the announcement “absolutely astonishing”.

Eastwood claimed that the UK are going to “ride roughshod” over the wishes of those in Northern Ireland by “ripping up an international agreement called the Stormont House agreement”.

Truss replied and said it was “simply not true” that a majority in NI support the protocol. She added: “An overwhelming proportion of people in Northern Ireland, 78%, agreed that the protocol needs to change in polling conducted in December 2021.”

The National: Donaldson, centre, after meeting Boris Johnson on MondayDonaldson, centre, after meeting Boris Johnson on Monday

Speaking after Truss’s statement, EU negotiator Sefcovic said: “Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the protocol as announced today by the UK Government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal.

“Our overarching objective is to find joint solutions within the framework of the protocol. That is the way to ensure legal certainty and predictability for people and businesses in Northern Ireland.

“With political will and commitment, practical issues arising from the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland can be resolved.

“The European Commission stands ready to continue playing its part, as it has from the outset.”

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It comes as Salmond Scotland wrote to the PM raising concerns about the impact of a “trade war” with Europe after the statement, adding that changes to the protocol could “undo” the hard work of the sector to increase exports to the EU in recent months.

The trade body said this has brought in £372 million for the UK economy and supported more than 3600 jobs in rural Scotland. 

Chief Executive Tavish Scott wrote in his letter to Johnson: “Any deterioration in relationships between London and Brussels which leads to friction at the border, delays and queues for hauliers crossing to France or extra costs for our exporters could put us back to where we were at the start of last year when exports were in chaos”.