Liz Truss is said to be drafting a bill that would unilaterally repeal key parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, removing the need for goods controls between Britain and Northern Ireland.
No bills are expected to be announced in Queens’s speech on Tuesday, but the UK foreign secretary reportedly asked officials to prepare the draft, which would put the UK in breach of treaty obligations.
In addition to lifting controls, the bill would also remove the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and remove all requirements for northern Irish businesses to comply with EU regulations.
A government source confirmed that Truss intended to move unilaterally to prepare to change parts of the protocol, but denied that the UK government had given up on the negotiations.
But Truss is understood to have formed the view that the UK can not wait for the conclusion of the negotiations before preparing to act unilaterally, given the election results in Northern Ireland over the weekend.
Senior UK sources stressed that stability in Northern Ireland was at stake with the icy pace of talks and while the EU has made it clear that its mandate has not been decided to change.
Several cabinet ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and top-level secretary Michael Gove, were told they were uneasy about the high stakes involved in the Trusss strategy and the possibility of a trade war with the EU, while the UK is on the verge. of a possible recession.
Cabinet sources suggested that the Trusss maneuvers were part of the leadership hinting that they were created to put him at odds with Sunak in the minds of conservative supporters. Sources close to Gove and Sunak denied that they were trying to block Trusss’s plans.
The bill was initially understood to be intended to give ministers the power in principle to circumvent the treaty, but not necessarily to be used in practice.
However, ed reported on Tuesday that the bill would go further than expected and clear parts of the protocol.
Such an action is expected to provoke legal retaliation from the EU if it continues to involve the imposition of new tariffs by the EU.
Truss will argue that the election results in Northern Ireland give the negotiations a new sense of urgency because the Democratic Unionist Party has said it will boycott any participation in a new government in Stormont until the issue is resolved.
Sinn Finn, who won more seats in Stormont for the first time, said Northern Ireland was doing collateral damage in the dispute.
A government spokesman said: “Our focus has been and will continue to be on maintaining peace and stability in Northern Ireland. No decision has yet been made on the way forward. However, the situation is now very serious.
We have always been clear that action will be taken to protect the Belfast agreement (Good Friday) if no solution can be found to regulate the protocol.
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