‘Unfit’ Lords either ‘extremely naive’ or wish to ‘damage country’

Gardiner clashes with Ben Habib

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“Unfit” Lords have revealed either “extreme naivety” or have a “wilful desire to damage our country” by threading to “surrender” to the EU, a leading Brexiteer has claimed. Peers are preparing to scupper the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill after concluding a negotiated settlement over the post-Brexit treaty is possible.

Reports suggest members of Parliament’s upper house will delay the Bill indefinitely with an amendment when it reaches the committee stage later this month to prevent it from completing its Lords stages until an impact assessment is produced.

One peer said it was wrong to “bulldoze ahead” with the Bill given the “smoke signals that there is a better prospect of a negotiation between both sides”.

Former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib told Express.co.uk this “either reveals extreme naivety or a wilful desire to damage our country”, adding: “I doubt it is the former.”

He added: “These Peers habitually undermine our national interest.

“In this case, they wish to surrender over part of the country to a foreign power. They are not fit for office.”

The businessman described the passing of the Protocol Bill as “the most basic minimum required to give our government a negotiating platform”.

He added: “Without it, there is no threat of British unilateral action and without that, we have no position from which to negotiate with the EU.”

Earlier this year, Liz Truss, then the Foreign Secretary, insisted that Northern Ireland Protocol Bill would help to “fix” the problems of the post-Brexit treaty.

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She added that a negotiated settlement with Brussels diplomats remained her “preference”.

EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who represents the bloc in negotiations over the Protocol, said the Bill was akin to putting “a gun on the table”.

Other EU officials have warned that the UK Government taking this action – or triggering Article 16 – would trigger a trade war.

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Having spent much time in the Foreign Office working on the future relationship between Northern Ireland and the EU (and, by extension, that of the EU and the UK), Ms Truss appears in recent months to have focussed far less on the topic, and much more, in particular, on the war in Ukraine.

Mr Habib expressed worry over the apparent downgrading of Northern Ireland’s status, highlighting a negative “mood music” over the future of the union.

He said: “Our embattled newly appointed Prime Minister has so much on her plate with the economy, she seems to have lost interest in the integrity of the country.

“She has not spoken of Northern Ireland since taking office.

“That Dublin and Brussels are gleefully saying a deal is in sight presages a British government sell-out.

“That is the mood music, and the mood music is rarely wrong.”

The former MEP added that the cost of failing in the ongoing negotiations would be much more than a minor change in GDP or trade percentages but the “tragic” loss of Northern Ireland from the union altogether.

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