Drakeford tells PM that abandoning parts of Northern Ireland Protocol would hurt Wales
The First Minister has written to the Prime Minister urging him not to abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol, as it would also have a knock-on effect on Wales’ economy.
Boris Johnson has threatened to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol, despite warnings from Brussels that it will breach the UK’s international legal obligations and the Bank of England that it would start a trade war during a cost of living crisis.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mark Drakeford said that such a move would “risk material damage to the British economy” and “undermine Britain’s reputation internationally,” and that it was a discussion that all parts of the UK should be part of.
“In relation to Wales specifically, the Welsh Government has a direct interest in anything which affects the way in which goods flow between Great Britain and the island of Ireland, given the strategic importance of our west-facing ports, particularly Holyhead, and on matters which might affect Welsh businesses more widely,” he said.
Mark Drakeford added in his letter that respecting and safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement had to be the first priority of the discussions about the future of the Protocol, and the “complex and sensitive” issues at stake could “only be resolved through dialogue”.
“It is widely reported that the UK Government is preparing legislation to disapply unilaterally parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol,” he said.
“Acting in this way would, I believe, risk material damage to the British economy and, given that the Protocol is part of a binding international agreement which you negotiated and signed, undermine Britain’s reputation internationally.
“Furthermore, since any action along these lines would affect all parts of the UK there is a clear case for a discussion of all UK governments to consider this matter.
“The Minister for Economy set out the Welsh Government’s position in respect of the Protocol in his letter to the Foreign Secretary of 17 January, and that position remains unchanged.
“I urge you not to take any unilateral action, but to continue dialogue with the EU. In addition, it is essential that the current position is discussed with the Devolved Governments.
“I suggest we agenda an item for a meeting of the IMG on UK-EU relations and would appreciate your response to this thought.”
The Prime Minister spent Monday in meetings with the leaders of Northern Ireland’s main political parties, after the Democratic Unionist Party refused to enter a powersharing agreement with the largest party Sinn Fein while the protocol remains in place.
But Boris Johnson said he wanted to “fix” the protocol rather than scrap it.
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