Boris Johnson ‘prepared to cave in to EU’ over role of European judges in Northern Ireland


Boris Johnson is prepared to water down UK demands for European judges’ role in post-Brexit Northern Ireland to be scrapped, in order to seal a deal with the EU.

The Prime Minister has made the arbitration role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) the new battlefront in the row with Brussels over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He and Brexit Minister Lord Frost have argued that one side’s internal court should not be able to rule on disputed in which it is involved, despite signing up to the plan last year.

However, Mr Johnson is prepared to agree to a plan that would see a role for an independent arbitration panel inserted into the post-Brexit deal, the Times reported.

It would mean the ECJ remains a court of last resort but cases are unlikely to have to make it that far, having been resolved by the panel.

A UK source told the paper:  ‘This is certainly something that we would be interested in looking at. It is exactly the kind of compromise that could be acceptable.’

Speaking on a trip to Ulster yesterday, Mr Johnson said problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol need to be flushed out ‘pretty fast’.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed by the UK and EU as a way to sidestep the major obstacle in the Brexit divorce talks – the Irish land border.

It achieved that by shifting regulatory and customs checks and processes to the Irish Sea.

But the arrangements have created new economic barriers on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

This has caused disruption to many businesses in Northern Ireland and has also created a major political headache for the Government, as unionists and loyalists are furious at what they perceive as a weakening of the Union.

Last week the EU made major concessions over goods entry to Northern Ireland from Great Britain as it sought to ease the ongoing row.

The European Commission offered to slash 80 per cent of regulatory checks and dramatically cut customs processes on British goods moving to Northern Ireland.

However, the plan did not address a key UK demand – the removal of the oversight function of the ECJ.

Speaking to the media in Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think there is an issue with the protocol and we need to thrash that out.

‘We can’t go on forever with this question because it is affecting real people and real lives and real businesses right now because of the way in which the protocol is being interpreted.’

He added: ‘I don’t think that it is coherent with the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement because the way it is being used is creating these unnecessary checks down the Irish Sea.

‘So we need to flush it out pretty fast and we need to change the causes of the problem and not the symptoms and I think we need to move pretty fast.’

Source: The