Northern Ireland news

Tony Blair warns Boris Johnson it would be a 'mistake' to unilaterally ditch the Northern Ireland Protocol

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern joined an event organised by the International Institute of European Affairs. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

FORMER BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned Boris Johnson that it would be a "mistake" to unilaterally abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol and that he should instead negotiate with the EU to make the post-Brexit trade arrangements work.

The former Labour leader was speaking alongside ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at an event organised by the International Institute of European Affairs.

Mr Blair said there was no prospect of the British government setting aside the element of the Withdrawal Agreement that keeps the north inside the EU's single market.

“I don’t see how we can do that – we entered into an agreement,” he told the online event.

"I mean, it would get a very negative reaction. I think it would be a grave mistake to do that."

Unionists are opposed to the arrangements and have mounted a court challenge arguing that the protocol breaches the Act of Union.

“The Northern Ireland Protocol, I mean it was negotiated by the same people who are now questioning it – it is not an inherited agreement,” Mr Blair said.

Mr Blair urged his successor to take a direct role in securing agreement on the deal, pointing to the effort needed during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations.

He said that “with goodwill and trust” a solution could be found but said such sentiments were "in short supply".

Mr Ahern, meanwhile, seconded Mr Blair's view that preparation was needed ahead of a border poll.

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