Economic relations with the European Union are set to go from bad to worse as the government prepares to introduce controversial legislation to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol.
A Bill to unilaterally amend the agreement will be introduced in Parliament amid controversy over whether the legislation will break international law.
Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis has insisted the new Bill is “lawful” and “correct” but Labour has accused the Government of “law-breaking”.
There is also likely to be some opposition from within Tory ranks, with a number of MPs believed to be unhappy with the legislation.
According to Robert Peston, the move could make trading with the EU – by far the biggest market for UK exporters – tediously difficult.
Writing in the Spectator, the political correspondent said: “Economic relations with the EU, still the biggest market for our exporters by a country mile, were already bad. They are about to become appallingly bad.”
The UK’s former ambassador to the EU Sir Ivan Rogers has already warned that the bloc will view threats to rewrite the Protocol as “self-evidently in bad faith” and as an “extraordinary hostile step to take”.
Rogers anticipates the EU commencing legal proceedings against the UK within days, a freezing of all the important talks on further trade and research co-operation between the UK and EU, and selective trade sanctions by the EU against the UK.
As Peston notes, at a time of looming recession and when the Ukraine catastrophe would suggest cordiality is the better policy, “all this is pretty disastrous.”
Read his comments in full here.
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