EU ‘banking on UK financial difficulties’ to break Northern Ireland protocol deadlock

UK and EU officials believe that avoiding this situation is essential to maintaining peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

On Tuesday, Westminster pressured the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to drop its boycott of the Northern Ireland Assembly over the protocol.

The main Unionist party has refused to enter into talks with rivals Sinn Fien until the Brexit trade deals are scrapped or nullified by the bill.

In a sign of waning patience with the DUP, the Northern Ireland secretary warned there was “no excuse” for refusing to return to power-sharing.

Chris Heaton-Harris, writing in the trade unionist Belfast News Letter, said his “priority is to see an executive formed as soon as possible”.

‘I have met with all the party leaders of the executive in Northern Ireland to make it clear to them that there is no excuse for the executive not being formed,’ he said.

Calls to revive Stormont power sharing

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill was designed to convince the DUP to return to Stormont after the May election. Instead, the party said it would only do so once it was certain the protocol would be removed or replaced.

Mr Heaton-Harris said: “I understand there are real problems with the Northern Ireland protocol and we need to find a solution. I believe this can be found through a negotiated settlement with the EU. But if this is not possible, we will continue with our legislation to solve the very serious problems with the protocol.

However, he also echoed calls from pro-protocol parties, including Sinn Fein, for the DUP to return to devolved government so that action could be taken to curb the cost of living crisis.

“The people of Northern Ireland are facing a difficult time due to high energy prices and cost of living pressures. They deserve responsible executive-led government,” he added .