The Daily Telegraph

Hard Brexiteers hired to override Protocol

- By Nick Gutteridge and James Crisp

LIZ TRUSS hired two hard Brexiteers to drive through her plans to override the Northern Ireland Protocol as she vowed to resist EU pressure, yesterday.

The Prime Minister appointed Chris Heaton-harris and Steve Baker, both former chairmen of the European Research Group, to head up the Northern Ireland Office.

At her first PMQS she pledged not to compromise on ripping up the Irish Sea border, which has enraged Unionists and led to the collapse of the Belfast assembly.

James Cleverly, the new Foreign Secretary who will take over responsibi­lity for leading talks with the EU, is also a staunch Brexiteer.

“My preference is for a negotiated solution but it does have to deliver all the things we set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill,” the Ms Truss told the Commons.

“What we cannot allow is for this situation to drift, because my number one priority is protecting the supremacy of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mr Heaton-harris, the new Northern Ireland Secretary, said he was committed to swiftly pressing ahead with legislatio­n to end customs checks between Ulster and Great Britain.

But he also opened the door wide for a deal with the EU to “fix” the border problem, saying there was “a fairly obvious landing zone for the negotiatio­ns”.

“It’s so important that goods and services that are available in England, Scotland and Wales are fully available in Northern Ireland,” he told MPS.

“The problems that the Protocol – probably inadverten­tly – has put in place mean that is not the case now and we do need to solve this issue.”

His remarks came as the DUP urged Ms Truss to accelerate the passage of the Bill by changing when it is tabled in the Lords. The legislatio­n isn’t due back before peers until mid-october, after parliament’s three-week recess for the party conference season.

Ms Truss could decide to bring forward the second reading to before next Thursday when the House breaks up, the Telegraph understand­s.

“We would be delighted to see it expedited,” a DUP source said.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the party’s leader, warned that Lords have “already started salivating in columns and tweets at the prospect of being able to delay and even derail the Bill”.

“It would be better for Northern Ireland, and the entire United Kingdom, if the Protocol Bill can be moved forward as expeditiou­sly as possible,” he wrote on Conservati­ve Home.

The DUP has said it will not return to the Stormont Assembly unless the legislatio­n is passed in full.

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