Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland Protocol bill passes second reading at Westminster

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told MPs on Monday she was backing the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill because she is 'a patriot'. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Paul Ainsworth

MPs have voted in favour of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill at the controversial legislation's second reading at Westminster.

Members backed the bill with 295 votes in favour, and 221 opposing it.

The bill will pave the way for the UK to override parts of its Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU that was agreed in 2019.

The legislation is aimed at resolving the row over the NI Protocol, that was agreed by the UK and EU to prevent a hard border in Ireland by effectively keeping the north in the EU's Single Market.

However, it is feared the bill's passing could spark a trade war with the EU, which earlier this month launched legal action against the UK following the legislation's publication.

During the debate in the House of Commons on Monday, South Belfast MP Claire Hanna, whose party opposed the bill, called for a "negotiated solution" with the EU as she told MPs "we have solved bigger problems than these before".

She added: "Nobody...in Northern Ireland loves the protocol, but we know that the better options were voted down. But like everything that's worth doing in Northern Ireland that will be achieved through partnership, through compromises, and not through unmeetable red lines that would remove the people of Northern Ireland from the single market, which is something that has no support."

Meanwhile, DUP leader and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who has said his party will not form a devolved government at Stormont unless the protocol issue is resolved, welcomed the new legislation.

He said the bill "seeks to finally and fundamentally reset and restore Northern Ireland's relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom, given the devastating impact of the protocol on the economic, constitutional, social and political life of Northern Ireland over the last 18 months".

British foreign secretary Liz Truss told the house she was backing the bill "because I'm a patriot".

However, former prime minister Theresa May was among Tory critics of the legislation. Referring to the foreign secretary's comments, and stating the bill would breach international law, Ms May said: "As a patriot, I would not want to do anything that would diminish this country in the eyes of the world."

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