The Telegraph, April 23, Martin Howe
Next week, there will be elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly at the same time as local elections on the mainland. These polls will bring to the fore the increasingly dire state of politics in Northern Ireland. Excepting some miracle, it is likely that the Northern Irish Executive will remain collapsed for the indefinite future.
The root of the problem is the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. It should not be confused with the later Trade and Cooperation Agreement which regulates trade between Great Britain and the EU.
The Protocol is meant to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately it increasingly has the exact opposite effect, by creating barriers within the United Kingdom between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and forcing the people of Northern Ireland to live under EU laws over which neither they nor the Westminster parliament have any say.
Under the Protocol, large swathes of EU laws – basically all relating to the single market in goods, or to customs, VAT and indirect taxes, and State aids – continue to apply inside Northern Ireland even though the UK has left the EU and its single market. Those laws must be kept up to date with changes made within the EU, resulting in hundreds of changes a year being imposed on Northern Ireland. The EU Commission and the ECJ intepret and enforce those laws, with the Commission having the right under the Protocol to send in officials to oversee and inspect how they are being applied.
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