Changes to Northern Ireland Protocol ‘Lawful,’ UK Minister Says

Changes to Northern Ireland Protocol ‘Lawful,’ UK Minister Says

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(Bloomberg) —

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Legislation that will allow the UK government to override parts of the Brexit deal it struck with the European Union is “within the law,” Conservative minister Brandon Lewis said.

The government will go ahead with the legislation on Monday, Lewis said in an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News. The bill was meant to be presented last week, but last-minute changes by senior ministers, concerns that it breaches international law and consultations with pro-Brexit MPs caused a delay.

“We as a government will be outlining our legal position and be very clear about why this is within the law,” Lewis, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, said on Sky on Sunday. “People will see what we are promising resolves the key issues of the protocol that don’t work.”

Boris Johnson’s government has long been pushing to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol, an agreement that keeps the area in the EU’s single market while creating a customs border with the rest of the UK. The government hopes the bill will pass through the UK’s lower House of Commons before Parliament breaks at the end of July.

READ MORE: UK Tweaks Northern Ireland Bill as EU Readies Legal Action

Any efforts to make unilateral changes to the protocol will provoke the ire of the EU, which would likely react by unfreezing infringement proceedings and ultimately could impose trade or financial penalties on the UK. The plan to change the protocol has been met with fury from EU member states as well as senior politicians in the US, who have said that peace and stability in Northern Ireland should not be jeopardized.

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