Lord Trimble: NI Protocol “shatters Northern Ireland’s constitutional relationship with the UK”

Co-architect of the Good Friday Agreement, Lord Trimble has intervened on the Northern Ireland Brexit issue, calling for the Protocol to be scrapped.

Writing in the Irish Times, the well-respected peer insists the current rules relating to Northern Ireland agreed between the British government and the European Commission are “already leading to problems.”

“Not only does [the Protocol] shatter Northern Ireland’s constitutional relationship with the UK, but it also is damaging our fragile economy,” he writes.

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party was instrumental in the cross-party negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for his contribution to “finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.”

And Trimble believes that the Protocol risks undoing the work undertaken 23 years ago, claiming that instead of “protecting the Belfast Agreement, the fact is it is pulling it apart” and “tensions are once again starting to rise” in the province.

The peer blasted foreign politicians in the European Commission, new US president Joe Biden and nationalist parties in Northern Ireland for hiding behind “this false mantra of protecting the Belfast Agreement” in order to justify “the indefensible attack on the rights and livelihood of all Northern Ireland citizens that the unprecedented and unreasonable protocol requirements impose on the part of the UK in which I live.”

One proposal muted as an alternative to the Protocol is the concept of Mutual Enforcement, put forward by the Centre for Brexit Policy.

The concept, backed by the Democratic Unionist Party “would ensure that 95% of goods travelling from GB to NI which aren’t for onward transit to the EU would avoid checks”, according to DUP MP Sammy Wilson.

And Lord Trimble agrees, calling on the UK government and the European Commission to start working immediately at applying this solution.

In a nod to the difficult negotiations of the past, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland concluded that in order to de-escalate rising tensions that “represent a real danger to the lives of the people living in Northern Ireland”, there must be “real political will on both sides to address this issue and protect the peace.”