PM warned he could DESTROY the UK with Northern Ireland Protocol plan

Leo Varadkar warns Boris he could DESTROY the UK if he pushes ahead with plan to overrule Brexit deal in Northern Ireland – as Irish deputy PM claims he’s ‘never seen relations as bad’ with London amid Protocol row

  • Boris Johnson warned he is risking break-up of UK with Northern Ireland plan
  • PM this week saw MPs give first approval to his bid to override Brexit deal
  • But Irish deputy Leo Varadkar continues backlash against UK’s Protocol stance 

Boris Johnson is risking the break-up of the United Kingdom with his push to override the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, according to Ireland’s deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar.

The Tánaiste hit out at the Prime Minister for not being ‘even-handed’ in his approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol – as he accused Mr Johnson of siding with Unionists in the dispute.

Mr Varadkar, who is set to take over as Irish PM – or Taoiseach – later this year, claimed Westminster was making a ‘strategic mistake’ by attempting to create new laws to unilaterally change the Protocol.

He warned that ‘more people will turn away from the Union’ if the UK ploughs ahead with its planned legislation. 

Mr Varadkar also lashed out at Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis over their recent statements and claimed that Irish-Anglo relations had never been ‘as bad’ as they currently are.

The deepening war-of-words between Dublin and the EU on one side, and London on the other, comes after MPs this week allowed Mr Johnson’s plan – which aims to unpick key parts of the Protocol – to clear its first hurdle in the House of Commons.

Although MPs approved a second reading of the Government’s Bill, many senior Tories warned they could oppose it at a later stage amid claims it is a breach of international law. 

The proposed legislation includes the creation of a check-free ‘green channel’ for goods from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.

It would also ensure that VAT changes from Westminster apply to Northern Ireland, permit state subsidies, and give UK ministers wide-ranging powers to cancel more of the Brexit divorce terms later if required.

But the EU has renewed legal action against the UK for threatening unilateral reform of the Protocol, while Brussels has also raised the prospect of a bitter trade war should Mr Johnson see through his plan.

Irish deputy PM Leo Varadkar claimed Irish-Anglo relations had never been ‘as bad’ as they currently are

Boris Johnson is aiming to unpick key parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has led to an angry backlash from EU capitals

The UK’s proposed legislation includes the creation of a check-free ‘green channel’ for goods from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland

Mr Varadkar, in an interview with BBC Northern Ireland’s The View programme, added to the ongoing outrage from EU capital’s about the UK’s actions.

He insisted the 27-member bloc would ‘not be threatened’ by the PM’s approach to the Protocol row.

‘It’s a government that has not been even-handed,’ he said of Mr Johnson’s administration.

‘In the past, commitments were given by UK governments that it would be even-handed in its approach to Northern Ireland, and I don’t think that’s the case when it comes to this government.

‘Their siding with one of the three blocs, if you like, of opinion that now exist in Northern Ireland.

‘I think that’s a strategic mistake for people who want to preserve the Union, because if you continue to impose things on Northern Ireland that a clear majority of people in Northern Ireland don’t want, more people will turn away from the Union.

‘It’s a peculiar policy coming from a government that purports to want to defend the Union.’

Mr Varadkar added that, in his political lifetime, he had ‘never seen relations as bad’ with UK ministers.

He claimed that Ms Truss and Mr Lewis were trying to ‘say a square is a circle’ with their recent comments about the Protocol.

He also urged the UK Government to ‘de-escalate’ the crisis over the Protocol, which Mr Johnson initially agreed with the EU in October 2019.

‘What the British government is doing now is very undemocratic and very disrespectful to people in Northern Ireland because it’s taking that power away from the Assembly, and saying that British ministers can override sections of the Protocol,’ Mr Varadkar said.

‘That’s what I find shocking and hard to accept. The British government wants to impose solutions on Northern Ireland that most people in Northern Ireland don’t want. We’ve had this happen twice now.

‘If you make a treaty and you’re an honourable country or an honourable government, you have to honour it, and you have to abide by international law. The approach they are taking is wrong. 

‘It is not normal for a democratic government in a respected country to sign a treaty and then try to pass domestic legislation to override it.’

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