Bernard Jenkin grilled on Northern Ireland Protocol by McCoy
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The backbencher said Brussels was being deliberately strict in the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to exert influence post-Brexit. Since the end of the transition period at the start of this year, the Protocol has continued to be a friction point in UK-EU relations.
Brussels has accused the UK of breaking international law by failing to properly implement the withdrawal agreement.
Meanwhile, British ministers have attacked the EU for being “purist” in its approach and undermining the UK’s internal market.
They say unnecessary bureaucratic checks are taking place on goods crossing the Irish Sea, while eurocrats claim the red tape is necessary to prevent UK goods from entering the single market via the island of Ireland.
Amid suggestions the UK should temporarily align with EU standards to prevent problems in trade, Sir Bernard urged the Government to stand firm.
“They’re still trying to take back control and we mustn’t let them,” he told a virtual meeting of The Bruges Group think tank last week.
“We’ve got to send a message around the world, we’ve left the EU, European sovereignty no longer applies in the UK.
“The EU is still trying to make a power grab over the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
“One of the things that has been suggested is that we consider a temporary alignment of all our product standards and food standards in the UK in order to obviate the need for checks on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
“Of course, as soon as you agree temporary alignment you are conceding the principle they should decide what our food standards should be, they should decide what our goods standards should be and we’re not going to do that.”
Lord Frost is currently negotiating with his EU counterpart Maroš Šefčovič as the pair attempt to find a solution to the problems caused by the Protocol.
At the end of the month chilled meats from Britain, such as sausages, will be banned from being exported to Northern Ireland under the agreement.
The Government has argued there is no reasonable grounds for banning supermarkets in Northern Ireland from selling goods from Britain.
However, the EU is insisting the rules be implemented in full to protect the single market.
Sir Bernard admitted he had “underestimated” Brussels’s determination to punish the UK for Brexit, saying the actions the bloc were taking were having a damaging impact on the EU as well as the UK.
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He said: “So far everything that the EU have done since the Brexit vote I have underestimated their determination to be intransigent and bully.
“To the detriment of their own consumers and their own national interests they are defending an indefensible construct.
“The single market is an indefensible construct.”
Last week Lord Frost wrote to the European Commission to ask for a delay of three months to the ban while a longer-term solution can be negotiated.
The bloc said it would “reach out to Lord Frost and his team to set up a meeting as soon as possible to discuss this request in detail”.
It added: “The Commission has already indicated its openness to finding solutions in line with the Protocol.
“However, for that to happen, the UK must fully implement the Protocol, which is the solution found to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, the functioning of the all-island economy, and the integrity of the EU’s Single Market.
“There is no alternative to the Protocol.
“When looking for solutions, providing stability and predictability for the people of Northern Ireland will be of paramount importance.”
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