Queen 'upset' by Tony Blair walking to opening of parliament
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Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, who campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum, has been explaining Brexit Britain’s position on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Mr Blair was said to have been providing “assistance” alongside ex-Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
According to Politico, a senior British diplomat said: “Tony has certainly been explaining to the Europeans and the Americans that the British Government has a real point on the trading aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol.”
They added: “He’s explaining why the EU’s proposals will not work.
“He doesn’t agree with the Government on every point but he certainly has been a helpful voice in that and I’m sure he will go on being so.”
Mr Blair’s help has been welcomed by the Brexit-backing Trade Minister Conor Burns.
Mr Burns told the Commons last week: “I want to place on record, Mr Speaker, in the House today, my thanks to the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the former Prime Minister Tony Blair for their assistance in the work that I have done over the summer.”
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However, this is not the first time Mr Blair has intervened on issues involving Brexit and Northern Ireland.
In July, the ex-Prime Minister urged both the UK and EU to “show maximum flexibility in order to reach an agreement” over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In a report issued by his Institute for Global Change, Mr Blair added: “[The] issues at the heart of the Protocol have the capability of causing an enlarged trade conflict between the UK and the EU, or undermining the Good Friday Agreement – and quite possibly both.”
However, during the 2016 Brexit referendum, Mr Blair joined his predecessor Sir John Major in Northern Ireland to talk about the ramifications of leaving the European Union.
Mr Blair even took aim at the official Vote Leave campaign over its “ideological fixation” on Brexit.
He added: “I say, don’t take a punt on these people.
“Don’t let them take risks with Northern Ireland’s future. Don’t let them undermine our United Kingdom.”
In 2019, when Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU were in full swing, the Telegraph even reported that Mr Blair had personally urged Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier to extend talks beyond Theresa May’s March 29 deadline.
London and Brussels have been locked in months of negotiations over Ulster’s post-Brexit trading arrangements, which impose checks on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
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Washington has also waded in on the debate, with Joe Biden’s administration wanting the UK to maintain its agreement.
Following talks between Joe Biden and Liz Truss, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The priority must be protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and preserving the gains of peace in Northern Ireland.”
The White House added that the two leaders had “affirmed their shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement”.
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