Ian Paisley questions James Cleverly about Northern Ireland
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The foundations of the United Kingdom are being jeopardised by the deal struck to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, a former Brexit Party MEP is warning. Ben Habib took a swipe at what he called the “Remain cabal” in Westminster for its claims the agreement protected the integrity of the union, insisting it did no such thing, and Northern Ireland has in effect been “left behind in the EU”.
The subject of the Northern Ireland Protocol has been the source of huge controversy since it was unveiled in 2019.
Unionist critics argue it has effectively imposed a border down the Irish Sea by keeping the North tied to EU rules and regulations, driving a wedge between the region and Great Britain.
However, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled the Protocol was lawful, rejecting a legal challenge mounted by a collective of unionists and Brexiteers – including Mr Habib.
Referring to David Trimble, Northern Ireland’s former First Minister, who died in 2022, Mr Habib, one of 29 Brexit Party MEPs elected to the European Parliament four years ago, told Express.co.uk: “In 1998, when campaigning in favour of the Good Friday Agreement, Lord Trimble remarked ‘the Acts of Union are the Union’. He was correct.
“The adjudication by the Supreme Court, in the case brought by myself and other unionists against the Protocol, confirmed unequivocally my fears of the damage done by it.”
The ruling confirmed British citizens in Northern Ireland were “no longer on the same footing as those in Great Britain”, Mr Habib claimed.
He added: “It accepted fundamental aspects of the Acts of Union had been subjugated by the Protocol.
“It also confirmed the requirement for consent to these changes by the people of Northern Ireland, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, was ignored by government.”
Mr Habib said: “The EU and the remain cabal in Westminster never hesitate to thump their faux righteous chests claiming the Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“The Supreme Court has ruled it does no such thing. It tramples on the East/West dimension of Northern Ireland/ Great Britain and strips unionists of their vote.
“The late Lord Trimble’s legacy has been traduced.”
The core manifesto pledge of the Conservative and Unionist Party going into the 2019 general election was to deliver the country out of the EU in fact, Mr Habib point out.
He said: “It failed in that fundamentally important pledge to Get Brexit Done.
“Northern Ireland has, to a significant legal and economic extent, been left behind in the EU.
“Cross-community consent is a corner stone of the Good Friday Agreement.
“That a major constitutional change could be imposed on Northern Ireland without that consent is not only instructive of government’s attitude to the integrity of the country and its pledges to the British people.”
The Good Friday Agreement afforded no protection to unionists, Mr Habib warned, and rather “undermined the United Kingdom and the Good Friday Agreement”
Referring to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, Mr Habib stressed: “Any deal Messrs Cleverly and Heaton-Harris do with Brussels to “fix” the Protocol must restore Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom. British citizens in Belfast must have the same rights as those in London.
“My fear of the existential threat posed by the Protocol to the United Kingdom and Good Friday Agreement has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.
“A month ago the Prime Minister outlined his five point plan for 2023.
“To that he must add a sixth: Restore Northern Ireland to its rightful place in the United Kingdom.
“People like me will not rest unless and until he does so.”
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