Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said if the British government takes steps to break the Northern Ireland Protocol, it will make a “total mess” of the already troubled Brexit agreement.
Speaking to Piers Morgan on TalkTV this evening, Mr Ahern said any move by Britain to alter the agreement would likely lead to trade sanctions from the EU.
He said both Irish and US governments are “very upset” the by UK government’s actions recently.
It comes as UK foreign minister Liz Truss has told the EU that London will unilaterally revoke their obligations under the Brexit deal which prime minister Boris Johnson signed in autumn 2019. The deal was later finalised with a new EU-UK outline trade deal on Christmas Eve 2020.
Ms Truss said the London government would soon just rip up sections of the Northern Ireland Protocol despite obligations in international law.
“Boris Johnson negotiated with the Irish Government and with the European Union that protocol and within a few months of negotiating he said that he didn’t like it and it was a bad idea,” Mr Ahern said.
“If the British government go down the road of arbitrarily breaking the protocol, there will be a response from Europe. The will probably start looking at sections of the Trade Deal and it’ll just make a total mess of everything.
“Several ministers in the last 24 hours, secretaries of state including the attorney general, seem to be indicating… that the British government are prepared to unilaterally change the protocol without consultation with Irish government or the Europe and that would just be an absolute mess.”
Morgan echoed Mr Ahern’s comments and accused the British Government of “betraying” the agreement.
The protocol gave Northern Ireland full access to the EU single market of 450 million people and entry into the markets in England, Scotland and Wales of over 60 million inhabitants.
Regarding the potential for a border poll in the future, Mr Ahern said “preparatory work” is needed before any vote is called and politicians must work to ease the concerns of “most” unionists.
“Hopefully the work will be completed and there will be a border poll. It’ll be up to the people what they decide,” he said.
“It should be on the basis of consent agreement. The one thing we don’t need on the island of Ireland is to go back into the troubled days. It’ll be the ability of the politicians over the next 20 years and see if they can both do the preparatory work and be able to negotiate and be able to satisfy most of the unionists.
“I don’t think you’ll ever get everybody on board, and nobody probably should expect that, but it will be a challenge… If we can’t resolve even the protocol, how will we resolve the bigger issues that are down the road.”