Boris Johnson – Arlene Foster accused of ‘desperate’ attempt to misrepresent Article 16 over vaccine row
POLITICAL commentator Brian Feeney has described a call by unionists, for Boris Johnson to trigger Article 16 to help the flow of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland, as “desperate”.
The Irish News columnist said the call from DUP leader Arlene Foster showed how she was misrepresenting the power of Article 16 – which allows for a temporary suspension of the protocol rules, giving room for the UK and EU to agree a solution.
The EU’s threat to invoke the clause in the NI Protocol came amid vaccine shortages in the bloc and there were concerns the Irish border could be used as a backdoor for supplies entering the UK.
Part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the protocol is designed to allow the free movement of goods from the EU into the north, and prevent the need for a hard border on the island.
Mr Feeney said:”What the EU did on Friday by invoking, then backtracking on Article 16 was a fiasco.”
However he claimed the DUP and Arlene Foster, who are opposed Article 16 as it has led to an Irish Sea border, were “leaping on this as if it’s an opportunity to get rid of the protocol altogether and somehow make radical changes in their favour”.
“Invoking it simply requires both sides to sit down and discuss how to make the protocol work better. The key point here is that Article 16 will not remove the Irish protocol,” he said.
“Arlene Foster doesn’t seem to understand this. In fact, the only way to remove the protocol is actually Article 18, which allows for an Assembly vote by 2024. To claim that Article 16 – a temporary measure to allow breathing space for further negotiation – can begin the process of replacing the protocol altogether is simply wrong.”
Mr Feeney added: “You can hear the desperation….when Arlene Foster makes these claims, as she knows that her party is responsible for Brexit. This is deflection.”
“To feed the claim that her mess can be partially undone via a mechanism designed entirely for a different purpose is feeding a false narrative.”