UK to unilaterally alter North Ireland post-Brexit trade deal

British foreign secretary Liz Truss said all political parties in Northern Ireland want the trade protocol changed. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - The UK will draft a new post-Brexit trade protocol with Northern Ireland "in coming weeks", but prefers a negotiated solution with the European Union, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday (May 17).

"Our preference remains a negotiated solution with the EU, and in parallel with the legislation being introduced, we remain open to further talks," Ms Truss told Parliament.

Northern Ireland's largest pro-British party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), is currently refusing to resume power-sharing in Belfast with pro-Irish rivals Sinn Fein until the protocol is reworked.

All political parties in Northern Ireland want the protocol changed, Ms Truss said.

She added that she had invited European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic to London for talks "as soon as possible", amid fears that the UK's unilateral move could spark a trade war.

"To respond to the very grave and serious situation in Northern Ireland, we are clear there is a necessity to act to ensure the institutions can be restored as soon as possible," said Ms Truss.

The DUP's stance comes nearly two weeks after Sinn Fein won a historic first victory in elections for the devolved Stormont assembly, which entitles the party to the role of first minister in a joint executive with the DUP.

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