High Court throws out legal challenge to Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol

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Northern Ireland’s High Court in Belfast has rejected a legal challenge to the Protocol governing trade in the country after Brexit, declaring that part of Britain’s withdrawal agreement with the EU to be legally sound.

The attempt for the Northern Ireland Protocol to be deemed unlawful was brought by the leaders of pro-British parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Ulster Unionist Party and the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

The DUP launched the legal challenge in February in response to issues with the supply chains of fresh food and other goods in Northern Ireland caused by strict border checks carried out under the Protocol.

On Wednesday Judge Adrian Colton found that Britain’s withdrawal agreement was in conflict with the Acts of Union 1800, but said the withdrawal agreement, including the Protocol, overrode that earlier legislation.

Former DUP leader Arlene Foster had argued that the Protocol was in breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which aimed to bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

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However, the judge rejected this assertion, as well as calls for a judicial review into claims that under the Protocol Northern Irish citizens are having their human rights breached by not being able to have a say on EU laws governing them.

Reuters said it had spoken to TUV leader Jim Allister, who said the parties plan to appeal against the ruling.

In an official statement, Allister said the Protocol was “dismantling” the Union and called on outgoing DUP leader Edwin Poots to “stop implementing the Protocol.”

The court’s decision comes as the UK and the EU are reportedly close to agreeing a truce in their so-called “sausage war” that came about over a looming ban on the sale of chilled meats from Britain in Northern Ireland.

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The dispute stemmed from Northern Ireland effectively being kept in the EU’s single market for goods, despite it withdrawing from the bloc along with the rest of the UK.

Generally, Brussels does not allow chilled meats to be imported from non-member states but had agreed with the UK on a six-month grace period lasting until the end of June so businesses in Northern Ireland could make alternative arrangements.

The UK has asked the EU to extend the grace period until the end of September, a request that will be approved later on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

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