Truss accused of perpetuating 'half-truths and grubby distortions' over protocol
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been accused of perpetuating “half-truths and grubby distortions” over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In an article published on the Financial Times website ahead of the second reading of the controversial NI Protocol bill in Westminster today, Liz Truss claimed the post-Brexit arrangement “has created a growing sense that the rights and aspirations of some parts of the community are being undermined”.
The legislation, which has been heavily criticised by Dublin and Brussels, will allow UK ministers to override parts of the protocol.
The second reading was reportedly delayed in a bid to pressurise the DUP to end its veto on forming a power-sharing executive at Stormont.
In her self-penned article, Liz Truss claimed: “Northern Ireland has been without a fully functioning executive since February because of the protocol, at the time of a cost of living crisis and many other challenges.
“Therefore, it is the duty of this government, as co-signatory and co-guarantor of the agreement, but also as the sovereign government in Northern Ireland, to act.”
She added: “Given where we are, the only way we can uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and fix the problems in Northern Ireland is through legislation.”
But SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said the article was "full of the same half-truths and grubby distortions that have characterised this UK government’s approach to the Brexit and the protocol”.
He said: “Most people, most business and most elected representatives want the Protocol to work with agreed mitigations.
“Liz Truss's intervention is simply further confirmation that this disreputable law breaking is about the battle for control of the Tory Party rather than people in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking about the new legislation yesterday, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis claimed the Good Friday Agreement is "either under pressure or not functioning".
"What we're talking about is fixing here some of the issues in terms of the implementation of the protocol that is so detrimentally affecting Northern Ireland, both GB businesses who can't supply Northern Ireland, people across Northern Ireland who can't get access to goods, the Jewish community can't technically practise their religion,” he told Times Radio.
"And we have seen Stormont collapse. That means the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in all three strands is either under pressure or not functioning at the moment.
"As the UK Government, we have an absolute duty to protect and deliver on the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and that's what we will be doing in this Bill by fixing some of those issues within the Protocol that are causing so many problems for so many people."