British diplomat justifies protocol transfer as a result of ‘changed times’

The British ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnston has acknowledged present tensions between the Irish and British governments saying there have been “honest and open disagreements”, however he insisted that each Dublin and London need to “end up in the same place”.

“Where we want to end up is in broad terms very much the same place – we want to see Good Friday Agreement in good health when it comes to its 25th anniversary, we want to see the executive up and running,” Mr Johnston instructed journalists at a briefing on Friday afternoon.

He stated that for the reason that protocol was agreed as a part of the EU-UK treaty that governs the British exit from the EU, “The world itself has changed in the intervening period. We now face a cost of living crisis, we’ve had Covid, we’ve had a lot of factors which are relevant but which weren’t there at the time,” he stated

“I feel though you hear from the Commission ‘pacta sunt servanda’ – agreements have to be revered – I feel there’s additionally a case of ‘tempora mutantur’ – the occasions change and we modify with them.

“And we do think that the times have changed and we think that this in principle refusal to reopen the [EU’s negotiating] mandate is a point we’re bumping up against.”

Mr Johnston was briefing journalists on the British Government’s place concerning the Northern Ireland protocol, which had resulted in probably the most vital breach in relations between Dublin and London in a few years.

He stated that it was doubtless that the protocol challenge would have to be resolved earlier than the Stormont Executive returned.

“There’s clearly a difference of view about how we get there, to put it mildly . . . There are differences that are expressed publicly and privately,” he stated.

“There are honest and open disagreements.”

He stated that the British and Irish governments had a accountability to work collectively “but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to agree about everything”.

“People who’ve dealt with it a lot longer than me say, ‘Look we’ve been through rocky periods before’”, Mr Johnston stated, however he insisted that “the essential shared interest is permanent.”

He stated that the British Government needed a model of the protocol that was “more sustainable, has broader support and doesn’t make the protocol a wedge issue in Northern Ireland politics and enables us to go forward.”

He stated that the UK hoped the grace durations—which imply that components of the protocol will not be but utilized – would proceed to be utilized by the EU in the course of the negotiating course of and whereas the UK goes via the legislative course of to unilaterally change the protocol.

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