There will be “really significant consequences for Britain” if the UK Parliament suspends the Northern Ireland protocol, Simon Coveney has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Ireland and the EU are now actively preparing for the UK to trigger Article 16 of the protocol in the coming weeks – effectively suspending its operation.
The protocol is a key element of the Withdrawal Agreement underpinning the trade deal between the UK and the EU and there are fears the move could spark a trade war.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the move could seriously damage UK/Ireland relations.
“A lot of evidence suggests that the British Government is now preparing to trigger Article 16 after COP26 which ends this week,” he said.
“I think we need to clearly be preparing for that and thinking about the repercussions of that – because I think they would be very serious should that happen.
“That is why I and others are out now talking openly about what I think is a very significant threat to the British/Irish relationship and also the UK/EU relationship.
“The British Government should not underestimate the impact of making a decision to set aside elements of the protocol and effectively deliberately breaking an agreement that they made.”
He said there will be really significant consequences if Westminster goes back on its word and triggers Article 16.
“One of the reasons I am as blunt as I am at the moment - and the Taoiseach is as well by the way, we are very much on the same page on this - is that I think it needs to be clearly understood not only in Number Ten but also in the British Parliament that there are really significant consequences for Britain if they decide to set aside international law,” he said.
“That is essentially what they’re doing so let’s call it what it is. This isn’t setting aside an element of a protocol, which sounds like a technical issue, this is setting aside international law for political reasons.
“The other thing it is important to say is, this wasn’t just a Boris Johnson-signed agreement – although it was that also. This is an agreement that was also ratified by the British Parliament so this is the British Parliament actually allowing international law to be set aside.”