Conor Burns, the PM's representative, has handed over a bundle of regulatory forms to show officials the negative impact it is having on businesses
Conor Burns, the PM’s representative, has handed over a bundle of regulatory forms to show officials the negative impact it is having on businesses, it has been reported. Mr Burns said the bundle of regulatory forms was helping him explain to officials in Washington the impact on businesses and consumers and why Britain wants changes.
The bundle follows a series of warnings from the US against overriding elements of the Protocol unilaterally.
Last week, Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House Speaker, claimed that doing so could damage the Good Friday Agreement, and the UK’s chances of a free trade deal with the US.
The Protocol created an Irish Sea border between Britain and Northern Ireland, avoiding a hard border in Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party claims the effect has been to drive up the cost of living, and it has refused to enter into power-sharing in Stormont with Sinn Fein following elections earlier this month.
Mr Burns told US officials the British Government wants a negotiated settlement with the EU over the Protocol, but would “do the right thing for our country”.
He said showing US politicians regulatory paperwork, given to him by a haulage company in County Antrim, had a “powerful” effect.
The Northern Ireland Minister told The Telegraph: “That is the bundle of documents to bring a single container load of goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.
“They [the haulage company] said to me, minister, it takes two lever-arch folders to bring a container load of goods.
“Crucially, [the goods are] destined for Northern Ireland. Nothing on that container that requires those forms will ever find its way to see dawn in the European Single Market in the Republic of Ireland.”
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Mr Burns is hefting the regulatory bundle around Washington and showing it to any officials or politicians he meets.
He said: “That is a powerful sign. When I say to someone that moving from Scotland to Northern Ireland, within the UK internal market….that is the equivalent, in an American context, of a truck moving from Texas to Florida.
“I think that is a point Americans look at and think, ‘OK, maybe that is a bit over the top,’ and ‘maybe the Brits have a little bit of a point here’.”
The minister said the US was “listening” and there were “encouraging signs,” and an “appetite to hear directly from the UK Government”.
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He said: “We know President Biden’s unshakeable commitment to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and that is widely shared in America, and it is widely shared across political parties in the UK and in Northern Ireland specifically.
“It is clear the Protocol, as it is being implemented, is the thing that is putting the greatest strain on the durability of those agreements.”
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has proposed a system with a “green channel” of no checks for British goods intended for sale in Northern Ireland, and a “red channel” for those crossing into the Republic of Ireland.