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BREXIT: UK Backing Away from Commitments Made under Withdrawal Agreement

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25.04.2020

A fraught negotiation between the EU and the UK is looming, as Boris Johnson seems to be backing away from legally and politically binding commitments he gave to the EU last October.

[John Bruton | Oped Column Syndication]

There are increasing grounds for concern that the UK is backing away from the legal and political commitments it made last October in its Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union (EU).

The Withdrawal Agreement was made before the UK General Election, when Boris Johnson led a minority government. Now he has an overall majority, and the prospect of four more years in office. He has more weight to throw around, at least in the short term. Some of the governments on the EU side are not in such a strong position.

There is a suspicion that he may now be backing away from legally and politically binding commitments he gave to the EU last October in order to appear to “get Brexit done” before his General Election.

For example, the newly appointed Northern Ireland Secretary has stated that there “will be no border down the Irish Sea”. Boris Johnson has made similar comments.

This could be interpreted as meaning that the UK was acting in bad faith when it agreed last October to the Withdrawal Agreement and to its legally binding protocol on Ireland.

In the Protocol, the UK committed itself to what amount to border controls between Britain and Northern Ireland.

While the word “border” is not used in the Protocol, the UK accepted in Article 5, that the EU customs duties would be collected on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain which if those goods were “at risk of subsequently being moved” to the rest of Ireland and thus into the EU.

It was also envisaged........

© Oped Column