Brexit blow as Liz Truss accused of ‘grandstanding’ and ‘taking eye off key issue’

Liz Truss says 'No reason for EU to take action' against Brexit Bill

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Liz Truss unveiled a bill to fix parts of the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol on Monday. The legislation aims to ease post-Brexit trade frictions over British goods entering Northern Ireland and safeguard the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. Under the proposals, red tape will be slashed as customs demanded by the EU to protect its single market will be kept to a minimum.

However, the four-pronged solution to the unpopular Protocol has been met with fury in Brussels, which the EU set to launch legal action against the Government on Wednesday, claiming the bill breaks international law.

Ms Truss, who has defended the UK’s actions, has been accused of “grandstanding” over Brexit in a bid to appease Tories and shore up Tory support for Boris Johnson, who last week survived a confidence vote in his leadership, with 148 Conservative MPs voting to oust him.

Professor Martin Smith at the University of York told Express.co.uk: “The problem is with Truss.

“When we have this sort of febrile politics and the question over the leadership, when they are making statements about the EU, Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol, they haven’t got their eyes on dealing with that issue.

“They’ve got their eyes on how that plays out with their electorate.

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“Both in the Conservative Party and in the party membership. So, there is grandstanding.”

Ms Truss defended the Protocol bill on Tuesday during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme.

She said: “We’ve been acting in good faith in these negotiations, but the fundamental issues that are affecting political stability in Northern Ireland are in the text of the Protocol and what we need is the EU to agree to change the text of the protocol.

“Otherwise, the negotiations won’t succeed. We’ve reached a dead end.

“Because we can’t change those core issues around customs and around VAT that are losing us the consent of the unionist community in Northern Ireland.”

The Foreign Secretary referred to customs and VAT, which are among the issues the Government aims to address with its bill.

One of the solutions contained in the legislation is the creation of customs “green channel” for goods from Britain that will remain in Northern Ireland.

Goods heading for the neighbouring Republic of Ireland would pass through a “red channel”, a move designed to protect the EU’s single market.

Despite the bill, Professor Smith claimed that Mr Johnson and Ms Truss should instead seek to negotiate with the EU, rather than push through new legislation.

He said: “Any rational person would have thought that if there are problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, it is absolutely essential we sort them out and negotiate a way to resolve any problems.

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“But Johnson and Truss are not doing that because what they’re doing is thinking, ‘how does this appear to the party members and to my MPs?’

“That is who they’re dealing with when they’re making these statements about Northern Ireland.

“And I think that is a real problem. Of course, that is the problem that could be resolved if you get a new leader.

“Because then they can say, ‘OK, we can calm down now and we need to sort out the Protocol’.”

Professor Smith also referred to recent reports that Mr Johnson will announce the return of imperial measurements, claiming the Prime Minister should be focusing on Brexit.

He said: “It goes back to: What is our post-Brexit relationship with Europe and the EU?

“We need to get that on a stable footing. Not have it as some sort of political football that is playing into the Conservative Party membership.

“You know, all this nonsense about imperial measures and crown marks on beer glasses.

“That is just nonsense really, because it is not dealing with the fundamental issues.”

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