Boris defends post-Brexit move on N.Ireland protocol

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to the House of Commons in London, Britain, on March 3, 2021. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the decision to suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol was lawful and right.

“What we’re doing is taking some lawful, some technical measures to build up confidence in the east-west operation (of the protocol),” Xinhua news agency quoted Johnson as saying by Reuters on Friday on a visit to Northern Ireland.

“We think it’s lawful, and indeed, we think it’s right, in view of the impact on the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, and the need to have consent from both communities,” The Prime Minister said.

He was referring to the agreement signed in April 1998 to help bring to an end a period of conflict in Northern Ireland called the Troubles.

The remarks came after the UK unilaterally extended grace periods for implementing post-Brexit checks on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The first of these periods was to expire at the end of March but the UK said they will be extended until October.

Brussels said Britain’s move breaches international law, signalling that it was considering legal action against London.

Britain’s exports of goods to the European Union (EU) fell by 40.7 per cent in January while imports from the regional bloc dropped by 28.8 per cent, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

In contrast to the falling exports to the EU, Britain’s exports of medicines and pharmaceutical products to non-EU countries increased in January, and a large proportion is represented by increasing exports to China and Japan, according to the ONS.

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