Next month, one of Northern Ireland’s High Courts will hear a tense Brexit struggle over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Northern Ireland is bound by a number of EU customs and regulatory norms as a result of the Protocol, which was put into the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to assist avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
However, the Protocol, which is presently being renegotiated between Brussels and London, has enraged Unionist leaders in Northern Ireland, who worry that it would create a hard border across the Irish Sea.
This is owing to the fact that certain products arriving from the rest of the UK are subjected to checks.
Because of these concerns, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, along with Jim Allister, head of the Traditional Unionist Voice party, and Baroness Kate Hoey, have filed a joint legal challenge.
It was deemed illegal by Ulster politicians since it contradicted the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the 1800 Acts of Union.
Some of Northern Ireland’s most senior justices heard arguments from the MPs’ attorneys in Belfast’s High Court earlier this year that the Protocol was legally “rotten to the core” and incompatible with domestic and European law.
The politician’s argument, however, was dismissed, with Mr Justice Colton dismissing their appeal on all grounds.
The judge ruled that the Withdrawal Agreement Act, which incorporates the Protocol’s legalisation, was in direct violation with the 1800 Acts of Union on free trade.
However, he highlighted that the Withdrawal Agreement Act “impliedly repealed” the relevant provisions of the Acts of Union.
In October, the Belfast Appeal Court will hear a challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol’s legality.
On October 11 and 12, the Lord Justices of Appeal will hear the case.
“Right is on our side,” Mr Habib tweeted ahead of the appeal. Prevailing is critical for the United Kingdom’s unity, and the government [UK Government] should accede with that in mind.
Mr Habib earlier stated that if the rulings were not in the politician’s favour, the matter could end up in the Supreme Court.
It comes as DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson expressed concern about the Stormont political institutions’ viability if the Irish Sea border is not eliminated after Brexit.
Sir Jeffrey was testifying before the House of Lords constitution committee this morning, telling peers that the Northern Ireland Protocol had changed the constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
The Lords committee is looking at the UK’s future governance, and Baroness Suttie questioned the DUP leader on the protocol’s impact on the unity between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol, in my opinion and in the opinion of the High Court in Belfast, alters the constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the UK.” Sir Jeffrey told the committee.
“The most fundamental piece of law in terms of Northern Ireland’s place within the union is the Act of Union itself and recently the High Court ruled in a landmark case that the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the NI Protocol repeal key elements of article six of the Act of Union.”
“Article six makes provision for free trade within the United Kingdom.”
“It states clearly that there should be no barriers to trade between the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.”
“For the High Court to state very clearly that the terms of the Act of Union have been altered significantly by the NI Protocol marks for us an unacceptable change in our constitutional status.”
“It is also worth noting that article one of the Good Friday Agreement makes very clear that any change to the constitutional status should require the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.”
“The consent of the people of Northern Ireland has not been sought for amending article six.”