EU trying to ‘undo’ gains made in Brexit says Sammy Wilson
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Sammy Wilson, the Democratic Unionist Party’s MP for East Antrim said Boris Johnson’s Government has “broken its promises” over maintaining unfettered trading access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Mr Wilson, 68, told Express.co.uk, the Prime Minister “has damaged his own reputation” by agreeing to the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol in his Brexit deal.
The Eurosceptic MP said: “When I hear people accusing him of being untrustworthy in the House of Commons, one of the things they mention is the way in which he broke his promises to the people of Northern Ireland.”
Despite recent moves by the UK Government to reduce the number of intra-UK checks and remove oversight of the European Court of Justice, the Prime Minister has left many in Ulster frustrated by previously pledging not to draw a customs border down the Irish Sea.
Speaking at the DUP’s conference about Theresa May’s Brexit deal in 2018, Mr Johnson said: “We would be damaging the fabric of the Union with regulatory checks and even customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland on top of those extra regulatory checks down the Irish Sea that are already envisaged in the Withdrawal Agreement.”
The decision to back-peddle on this commitment led almost 150,000 voters in Northern Ireland to sign a petition to end the Protocol.
But the DUP’s former Brexit spokesman added how Johnson’s broken promise to the people of Northern Ireland was “just one of the many litanies of things that people now throw at the Prime Minister”.
Mr Wilson highlighted other examples of when the Prime Minister has failed to live up to his previous promises, including on Afghanistan and tax rises.
“Just as many Conservative voters don’t trust the Prime Minister any longer, I think many Unionists in Northern Ireland don’t trust him,” he added.
Boris Johnson faced a backlash from voters and Conservative MPs this week over his manifesto-breaking announcements that he would increase national insurance contributions and suspend the triple lock on pensions.
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The Tory Party’s lead in the opinion polls collapsed following Mr Johnson’s announcements, helping Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party top a survey for the first time since January.
The DUP MP also stressed how important it is for Johnson to “restore trust” with Unionists in Northern Ireland.
Wilson said: “He has to look, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at how this treatment of Northern Ireland impacts upon the unity of the United Kingdom in the long-run.”
The Centre for Brexit Policy director argued if Johnson could not mend the relationship with Unionists in Ulster then it could threaten the integrity of the entire Union.
“Any willingness of the UK Government to weaken the link between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will be jumped on by Scottish nationalists,” he said.
The 68-year-old added: “If the Government does not grasp the Northern Ireland Protocol nettle then they are going to get badly stung in Scotland.”
Although Mr Wilson was critical of the Prime Minister, he did say he believed he was a Unionist.
“I do get the impression that at heart he is instinctively a Unionist but he is also one of these people who makes these decisions one day and hopes that the consequences don’t catch up on him too quickly,” he said.
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“I think the consequences of his decisions are catching up on him and he now has to address them.”
Mr Wilson called on the UK Government to “implement” their command paper on the Protocol, which addresses the problems with Ulster’s post-Brexit status.
The Prime Minister wrote in the foreword of the command paper the Protocol has “placed strain on institutions” in Northern Ireland.
Johnson went on to say changes “must ensure that we can fully respect Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, its customs territory and internal market, while playing our part in respecting the integrity of the EU’s Single Market, and, of course, ensuring that the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remains without infrastructure or checks.”
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