Brexit: Boris Johnson tells Irish PM ‘meaningful changes’ needed to protocol

Boris Johnson has told the Irish Prime Minister that ‘meaningful changes’ are still needed to the protocol – after the taoiseach said there was growing opinion in Northern Ireland that the Brexit deal was working.

Micheal Martin said “everyone he met” in Northern Ireland wants continued access to the EU single market as he met Mr Johnson in London for talks.

The taoiseach’s comments come after Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party would not resume the power-sharing deal while the dispute over the protocol between the UK and the United Kingdom would not be resolved.

Mr Martin suggested the hotly debated issue of the Northern Ireland protocol would not be resolved by the time of the May provincial election – saying London and Brussels would strike a deal “in due course”.

Speaking to reporters ahead of talks with the Prime Minister in London, Mr Martin said business leaders north of the border believed the Northern Irish economy was benefiting from the current arrangements.

“What is very interesting from our point of view, however, is that what is growing and growing is a view in Northern Ireland, particularly in Northern Irish business and industry, that the protocol works in terms of inward investment in Northern Ireland and in terms of access to the EU single market,” he said.

Mr Martin told reporters: ‘So everyone I’ve met in Northern Ireland all wants to continue to have access to the EU single market. This is a good basic principle to start with.

However, Mr Johnson insisted ‘meaningful changes’ were still needed to the deal, as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss continues to hold talks on easing border controls with her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has reiterated the need for significant changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland and to safeguard the agreement of Belfast (Good Friday) in all its dimensions.

“He said that while greater ambition and flexibility were needed from the EU in the negotiations, he hoped that the same spirit of cooperation that had characterized relations between the UK and the EU with regard to Ukraine could also be applied to solve the problems with the protocol.

The Irish leader – who attended the England v Ireland rugby match at Twickenham on Saturday with Mr Johnson – defended his decision not to consult the UK before deciding to waive visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees.

“There was never any question of us acting outside of the European Union’s approach to this,” he said. “I think the UK would have been well aware of the European Union’s direction of travel in relation to this measure.”

Asked if he would encourage Mr Johnson to take in more people fleeing war in Ukraine, the taoiseach said: ‘Well, to be fair, I’m not here to tell Boris Johnson what to do’ , before adding: “I have to acknowledge the leadership of the British government in relation to the sanctions it has imposed on Russia.

The meeting in London follows the latest remarks from the DUP leader, who was applauded at Crossgar Orange Hall on Friday night for saying his party would not reinstate the Stormont executive until Mr Johnson’s government took action to “protect Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom“. .

Paul Givan resigned as Prime Minister earlier this year as part of DUP action against Protocol in a move that also removed Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill from joint office .

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Edward L. Robinett