Downing Street has dismissed proposals put forward by the European Union to ease the rollout of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Brussels has announced proposals to simplify parts of the protocol and to remedy some of the issues associated with post-Brexit border checks, but Number 10 said the proposed measures, which concentrate on the flow of medicines and livestock, were the same as ones floated before.
It comes after Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, rejected Boris Johnson’s demands to renegotiate significant parts of the protocol.
In its latest plans, the EU proposed that UK authorities could carry out checks on over the counter medicines going to Northern Ireland, but the United Kingdom would have to make sure that all medicines comply with criteria set by the EU’s regulator, the European Medicines Agency.
According to a newspaper outlet, all of the products would also have to be clearly labelled as being EMA compliant.
The protocol currently means that Northern Ireland must adhere to the EU’s pharmaceutical rules while the rest of the United Kingdom is free to do what it wants.
There’s currently a grace period on checks on medicines crossing the border, continuing until the end of the year.
The United Kingdom wants medicines to be excluded from the scope of the protocol amid concerns that having to adhere to EMA rules could prevent Northern Ireland from being able to obtain new drugs approved in Britain which are yet to be approved by the EU regulator.
The EU has also set out plans to make it easier to move livestock between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom has argued that EU red tape on the issue puts Northern Ireland farmers at a commercial disadvantage.
Downing Street said the medicines proposal was equal to the one set out in June and that it didn’t resolve outstanding problems.
A UK Government spokesperson said that the EU’s plan was a good start but it would be difficult to manage, onerous and wouldn’t deal at all with those medicines, such as new cancer medications, which under current arrangements must be licensed by the European Medicines Agency in Northern Ireland.
And that was why they’ve proposed in their Command Paper that the easiest way forward, to circumvent those difficulties in the future was to remove medicines from the scope of the protocol entirely.
Of course, this is a British question in Northern Ireland. They didn’t ask for this mess! And it looks like they’ve been thrown under the bus, and it still doesn’t look like Boris Johnson has fully cooked his oven-ready deal.
Boris Johnson seems to be using a slow cooker – deliberately, and the only country within the single market with empty shelves in its supermarkets is Northern Ireland, and the only neighbour to the EU with empty shelves in its supermarkets is Britain, there appears to be a huge problem here.
And Boris Johnson waving his hands around reminds me of Tommy Cooper, but nowhere near as entertaining. Next, he’ll be saying, “Just like that!”
The United Kingdom has been taken to the cleaners, and the economy will pay the price while Boris Johnson enjoys the political benefits domestically, as no shortage of fools will support him.
The EU is done with the UK because as far as their concerned they’ve wasted too much time on us already, but the EU isn’t being nice, although it’s being indifferent while keeping up appearances, and the UK has put itself under pressure, just further isolating the United Kingdom.