To British ears the statement by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the Northern Ireland Protocol would sound reasonable.

Ms Truss said the planned legislation would give people in Northern Ireland the same rights to trade as those in the rest of the United Kingdom while respecting the EU's Single Market.

Goods coming from Britain destined only for Northern Ireland would go through a Green Channel without unnecessary customs checks.

Those intending to cross the border would be subject to checks and the British would share data with the EU and introduce "robust" penalties to prevent abuses of the new system.

Northern Ireland businesses would operate under a dual regulatory system adhering to UK standards when exporting to Britain and EU standards when exporting South and to continental Europe.

This, said Ms Truss, was necessary as the existing protocol was not acceptable to part of one community and threatened the Good Friday Agreement.

The impact on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland had undermined Strand Three or East-West relations enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, she said, and the agreement had consequently become "unbalanced".

She said the proposed legislation due to come before the House of Commons in the "coming weeks" was not about scrapping the protocol.

However, this will be viewed as a unilateral rewriting of the Northern Ireland Protocol and there will be many who claim it is in fact a breach of international law.

In any event, arrangements such as these would rely on a high level of trust that the British government would honour its commitment to safeguard the single market.

Given the British government's history of failing to follow through on previous commitments, there will be many in Dublin and Brussels who will doubt that. And will suspect that what the British government really wants is to eventually remove all traces of EU regulation and oversight from Northern Ireland.


What is the NI Protocol? News2Day explains

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