Brexit: Gove slammed over ‘untrue’ claims by Ben Habib
Ms Braverman today backed Mr Johnson’s suggestion he would be prepared to use the mechanism as a means to ditch the controversial rules, which effectively impose a border down the Irish Sea, much to the anger of Northern Ireland’s First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster among others. However, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib remains highly sceptical.
He told Express.co.uk, on the face of it, Mrs Braverman’s remarks should be heartening.
He said: “We should all be comforted by the commitment of two senior members of the Conservative Party – and that was the point of their interventions, to calm dissent.
“Any suggestion that the government will stand up for Northern Ireland in the union of the United Kingdom is false.”
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Mr Habib said: “The government has had ample opportunity to do the right thing.
“Having won his thumping majority, there was no pressure on the Prime Minister to sign the Withdrawal Agreement and its Northern Irish Protocol, but sign it he did.
“Then, during the course of last year, Michael Gove repeatedly said the trade deal then being negotiated with the EU would be used to unpick the Protocol but Northern Ireland never even featured on Lord Frost’s agenda.”
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The Internal Market Bill, launched in September 2020, had offered Mr Johnson a means for unpicking what Mr Habib called “the more pernicious aspects of the Protocol”.
However, he added: “Michael Gove dropped it a month later without explanation, announcing in the Commons that the terms of the Protocol would be implemented in full.
“Implemented they were this January – creating much hardship for the people of Northern Ireland, loyalists and separatists alike.
“And Gove’s answer to this: a meek application to the EU to extend grace periods which are largely already in place and not working.”
Mr Habib said Mrs Braverman’s interventions would be welcomed by unionists on both sides of the Irish Sea – but warned the Government has no intention of unpicking the Northern Irish Protocol.
He added: “Sadly matters in Northern Ireland are going to deteriorate a lot further before this Prime Minister takes proper action.”
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Braverman said: “Boris stood up to the EU last year and we got a good deal.
“I am really confident we are not going to let the EU push Northern Ireland around.”
“We will do whatever it takes to ensure that we get a good settlement for Northern Ireland and a good settlement for the Union.”
Tweeting last week after the EU triggered Article 16 to prevent imports of coronavirus vaccine into Northern Ireland, before rapidly reversing its decision, Mr Johnson said: “Our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland and our Union is unshakeable.
“Recent EU moves have undermined the Protocol and understandably provoked concern.
“Let me underline that, now and in the future, Northern Ireland’s place in the UK will be protected and strengthened.”
He added: “What is needed is urgent action from the EU to resolve outstanding problems with Protocol implementation, so as to preserve the gains of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and ensure that Northern Ireland benefits from Brexit just like every other part of our United Kingdom.“
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is set to visit London this week for talks with Mr Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to discuss ways of tackling post-Brexit friction in Northern Ireland.
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