Derry MP Colum Eastwood claims Britain's international reputation is in 'tatters' due to unilateral Brexit Protocol moves
Derry MP Colum Eastwood has claimed the British Government's international reputation is in 'tatters' following its unilateral alterations to the operation of the Irish Protocol last week.
He said world leaders in Washington and in capitals throughout Europe were 'furious' with London's decision to extend the grace period for supermarket goods travelling between Britain and the north without agreement with Brussels.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon Mr. Eastwood said: "Last week the Secretary of State rushed out, sneaked out an announcement unilaterally on Budget day that his government would once again break international law.
"Given that governments across Europe, politicians on Capitol Hill and in the White House are furious about this move, is the Secretary of State at all concerned that this government's reputation is in tatters across the world?"
In response Mr. Lewis denied that the extension of the Protocol grace period was a a breach of international law and insisted it has been done to benefit the people of the north.
"I'm afraid I have to contradict the Honourable Gentleman on several, pretty much every point he has just made.
"First of all I don't think it is sneaking out of the House to stand here at Oral Questions and answer and make these points at Oral Questions as we did last week," he said.
The Secretary of State said MPs were able to ask questions about the move while a Ministerial Statement and guidance documents were released publicly.
"In terms of lawfulness, these are lawful actions as I outlined last week and as I've outlined already...this afternoon. They are about implementing the Protocol and fulfilling our obligations under the Protocol which we will continue to do and make sure we deliver on that in a pragmatic and flexible way to work for the people of Northern Ireland," said the Northern Ireland Office minister.
He claimed the Irish Government has made comparable moves since the Protocol came into operation. .
"This is lawful action. I would just say that bearing in mind the Irish Government took similar action themselves just a few weeks ago and these are temporary pragmatic operational things to ensure that the Protocol can work and to avoid further tensions and problems for people across communities in Northern Ireland.
"I would hope that people across the EU and our friends in the US will see that this is an important piece of work that we have done to ensure we can deliver on the Protocol and respect the Good Friday Agreement in all of its strands, not just north-south but east-west as well."