Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is set to deliver a speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday on the government’s plans to act on the Northern Ireland protocol, with officials apparently readying legislation that may overrule aspects of the Brexit agreement.
A government source said ahead of the announcement that talks with the EU would continue and that no draught legislation would be released.
Boris Johnson is presently in Northern Ireland, where he is meeting with the leaders of the five major political parties to explore possible alterations to the post-Brexit trade arrangements.
The UK “reserves the right” to use Article 16 of the treaty, according to the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson, but that is not the route No 10 is presently taking.
Given questioned why it was stated to be looking at domestic legislation when the protocol had the authority to unilaterally suspend the Brexit deal, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are getting slightly ahead of what the Foreign Secretary will say tomorrow when she will set out any rationale for our approach.”
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said when asked why the government is not contemplating activating Article 16: “We still reserve the right to use Article 16.
“And indeed we believe the conditions have been met to use it but our focus is how we best protect peace and democracy in Northern Ireland – that will be our guiding principle for any further actions we may choose to take.”
Mr Johnson is seeking to get the devolved government to return. Because of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has refused to attend the assembly.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP’s leader, said after the party’s meeting with Mr Johnson that he was unaware of the Government’s plans to deal with the protocol.
He said that he would assess the proposals based on their actions rather than their words.
Sir Jeffrey responded when asked about the resumption of Northern Ireland’s political institutions: “We cannot have power sharing unless there is a consensus. That consensus doesn’t exist.”