Liz Truss defends Northern Ireland protocol bill as 'patriot' and 'democrat'
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has received the meme treatment once again, after she defended a bill to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland protocol as a “patriot and democrat”.
The protocol, which forms part of the UK’s Brexit deal, was an agreement between the government and the European Union to prevent a hard border existing on the island of Ireland.
Despite there being a legal route under Article 16 to suspend parts of the protocol if they cause any “economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade”, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill looks to ditch sections of the agreement altogether.
It’s led to the government facing accusations of breaching international law, with former prime minister Theresa May telling MPs the bill “is not, in my view, legal”.
Meanwhile Hilary Benn, the MP for Leeds Central, challenged Ms Truss on her decision to introduce the Bill and said: “I suspect that when she was campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, she never in a million years thought she would be standing here, proposing a bill of the sort.
“In the light of the comment she has just made about Article 16, why is the government not proposing to use the legal method to raise these questions with the European Union through the treaty that she signed, rather than one claiming ‘necessity’?
\u201cBizarre. It's tacky to accuse people who disagree with you of being unpatriotic; and the democratic mandate here is for the version of the withdrawal agreement that the Foreign Secretary campaigned for as an "oven ready deal".\u201d
Ms May even took aim at Ms Truss’ unusual reasoning in her contribution to the debate, and said: “As a patriot, I would not want to do anything that would diminish this country in the eyes of the world.
“This bill … will diminish the standing of the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world, and I cannot support it.”
Bit awkward, then, that she eventually abstained from voting on the bill’s second reading on Monday, rather than voting against it.
The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill passed the parliamentary stage when it was backed by 295 MPs to 221, and will now progress to committee stage.
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