Northern Ireland news

Dominic Cummings: Ireland and UK fudged Protocol problems to 'figure out later'

Dominic Cummings pictured during his interview with BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg
Paul Ainsworth

BORIS Johnson's former chief aide Dominic Cummings has accused the Republic and the EU of wanting to "fudge" the Northern Ireland Protocol, by leaving problems caused by the Irish Sea border to "figure out later".

In a interview with BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg this week, Mr Cummings, who resigned from Downing Street last November, made a series of claims about his former boss, including his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the former Vote Leave director also divulged details of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which was signed in January 2020, one month after Mr Cummings helped Mr Johnson to a Conservative landslide in a campaign headed by the slogan 'Get Brexit Done".

Mr Johnson told voters his Withdrawal Deal, which included the Northern Ireland Protocol, was 'oven ready', but since the signing of the UK/EU trade deal in 2020 and the UK's full departure from the bloc last January, the British government has been critical of the rules they agreed to regarding trade between the north and Britain..

The protocol effectively leaves the north in the EU's Single Market for goods in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, preventing unfettered trade on certain goods moving from Britain to here.

The UK has since described the protocol rules as "unsustainable", while unionists in the north have demanded its removal entirely in some cases.

However, Mr Cummings said the Irish negotiators on the EU side were "prepared to fudge a bunch of crucial questions" regarding the Protocol, saying they "basically punted them into the future".

He continued: "Our view was that we were signing up to something in terms of Ireland that was deliberately opaque on both sides."

Highlighting the issue regarding the north following EU Single Market rules but according to the deal, remaining part of the UK's customs territory, he went on: "The deal we ended up signing is kind of inherently self contradictory in various ways."

Mr Cummings claimed the Irish wanting to ignore difficult questions until a later date "suited us as well".

"It suited both sides to sign up to something that was not what either side really wanted and which punted difficult questions into the future to figure out later," he said.

Denying the move on the UK's part was "unbelievably casual" in its approach to the north, Mr Cummings said Downing Street "had to prioritise" to achieve Brexit.

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