Moran: Northern Ireland Bill feels like a bad sequel

Yesterday evening, the Commons passed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill 295 by votes to 221. Lib Dem spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Layla Moran accused the government of reopening old wounds to save its own political skin rather than dealing with the issues facing the country now.

She said the bill will only increase barriers against imports and exports causing prices to rise even further, the last thing that farmers, fishermen and families up and down the country want.

Despots across the world will be delighted. How on earth can we hold others to account when we are tying ourselves up in knots, trying to find loopholes to get out of the agreements that we sign? This is how banana republics act, not Great Britain.

Moran continued:

I have to say that there are elements of this debate that feel a bit like a bad sequel. We thought that the Brexit debates were behind us, but instead we see a Government intent on reopening old wounds to save their own political skin, rather than looking forward and solving the issues facing the country now. People are in crisis here and now. The cost of living crisis is real, but what is the Government’s response? Rather than spending time focusing on that, they are reneging on an international agreement and risking plunging us into a trade war with our biggest trading partner. As a result, the Bill will only increase blocks and barriers against imports and exports, and that in turn will cause prices to rise even further. That is the last thing that farmers, fishermen and families up and down the country want.

Businesses in Northern Ireland do not want it, either… Support for the protocol is growing in Northern Ireland precisely because it protects the Good Friday agreement and brings economic opportunities. It is for that reason that the majority of Members of the Legislative Assembly support the protocol.

That said, no one is suggesting that there are no issues. We knew that we would have to go into further negotiations…

I ask the Minister: how does breaking international law increase trust between negotiating partners? It does not… It is extraordinary that it is only now that the Government seem to care about cross-community consent, because most people in Northern Ireland voted against Brexit, and even more voted against the hard Brexit chosen by this Government, and yet the Government went ahead anyway…

What has materially changed since then? The answer is the Prime Minister’s position. And so what does he do? He breaks the law—again. This is an egregious breach of international law. Article 25 of the International Law Commission’s text on internationally wrongful acts of state allows a breach of international obligations only where it is “the only way for the State to safeguard an essential interest against a grave and imminent peril”…

The Government signed the agreement and it was debated to death in this place all through the Brexit years. To suggest that this is new information is doublespeak—it is straight out of Orwell’s “1984”. Moreover, despots across the world will be delighted. How on earth can we hold others to account when we are tying ourselves up in knots, trying to find loopholes to get out of the agreements that we sign? This is how banana republics act, not Great Britain. The world looks to us. Can they trust us, they ask, when they want to make trade agreements with us? It is that trust that is being eroded today in this Bill…

This Bill is a disgraceful course of action, and I and the Liberal Democrats will vote against it, because we are a party of law and order. We believe in the international rules-based order. The Government should withdraw this Bill and get on with tackling the cost of living emergency and safeguarding the interests of the whole of our nation.

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8 Comments

  • …………………Moreover, despots across the world will be delighted. How on earth can we hold others to account when we are tying ourselves up in knots, trying to find loopholes to get out of the agreements that we sign? ……………….

    China (over the Hong Kong agreement) ignored the wishes of the majority of the people there and, using central governmental power, overrode all opposition…We condemned them..
    Our government, with regards to upholding an international agreement, has done exactly the same thing..
    Almost daily this government erodes whatever moral authority this country once had.

  • Did somebody say “Get Brexit Done”? How’s that going, eh?

  • Michael Cole 28th Jun '22 - 11:08am

    If I were a Northern Ireland resident it would not be unreasonable, sectarian issues apart, to think “To hell with Unionism, let’s make Ireland a united island and be part of the EC and single market.

  • nigel hunter 28th Jun '22 - 11:53am

    Brexit is not done.We have become a banana republic.Under this govnt our moral authority is being eroded.They are only now wanting cross community agreement cos their puppets in NI (DUP and they will throw them to the dogs ,again if required) are not top dog.You can see the NI people getting fed up with the stupidity of this mess and ,as in Scotlsnd,start thinking of joining Ireland and thus the break up of the UK.
    It has been my belief that the Conservatives have long used the UK as their plaything to carry out their ideology at the behest of the extreme wealthy.With the break up of the UK ENGLAND would be that plaything.

  • George Thomas 28th Jun '22 - 12:55pm

    “Businesses in Northern Ireland do not want it, either… Support for the protocol is growing in Northern Ireland precisely because it protects the Good Friday agreement and brings economic opportunities. It is for that reason that the majority of Members of the Legislative Assembly support the protocol.”

    The UK Tories are pretending to be unionist party is over-riding wishes of those in Northern Ireland and, through threatening to scrap Trade Union Wales Act in 2017, in Wales too without any reason other than to try and move headlines away from how badly it’s failing. Through doing so they’re putting more and more people off the union.

    I’m not sure how many Tory voters care about international opinion, but surely they care that something which pretends to be a unionist party is swinging an axe repeatedly at the union? Do voters know that though?

  • Nick Collins 28th Jun '22 - 1:54pm

    @ nigel hunter I agree with your sentiments but we shall have to think of another description for ” Little England ” than “banana republic”. As John Leach points out on another thread, our MPs are still required to swear allegiance to a monarch before being allowed to take their seats. And I don’t know how long it will before global warming reaches the stage where we do not need to import our bananas

  • Ah the Banana Monarchy in action again. No wonder the Scots want out, but just wait to see the ‘arguments’ against them even being able to self determine (in this glorious union of equals where everything that is the status quo is said to be ‘by consent’ … even if mechanisms to test that consent are persistently denied!).

  • For some voters, breaking international law is reaffirmation that Britain has become Great again, because Brexit was about getting free from the tyranny of our European neighbours and their namby-pamby interest in things like human rights. Far from being an indictment of Johnson’s cavalier approach, renaging on an agreement is proof that post-Brexit Britain is flexing its muscles under its supreme leader. At the same time Johnson pins all the blame on the EU, a strategy which has paid dividends in the past.
    Johnson is a master at dog-whistling to the parts of the electorate other parties can’t reach, so simply saying his fudge over Northern Ireland damages our international reputation won’t work; to those who hear the dog-whistle, the more it’s talked about as a disaster, the more they admire Johnson for having the guts to do it.

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