Brexit: Ben Habib claims UK 'clearly isn't sovereign'
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The protocol, which was agreed by the EU and UK to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland, has created a series of economic barriers on the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The post-Brexit trading arrangements are currently being renegotiated between the UK and EU with a team from the European Commission set to travel to London on Tuesday for several days of intensive discussions.
But it was warned the two sides were still far apart on issues surrounding the protocol, including the removal of the oversight role for the European Court of Justice for Northern Ireland.
Measures proposed by the EU would see an 80 percent reduction in checks envisaged for retail agri-food products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
As negotiations continue, however, judges in Northern Ireland’s High Court have granted an appeal to a pan Unionist legal challenge challenging the legality of the protocol.
The legal challenge was launched by former Brexit Party MEP Ben along with Jim Allister, leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party and Baroness Kate Hoey.
In an initial case hard earlier this year, some of Northern Ireland’s most senior judges heard arguments from the politicians’ lawyers that the protocol was legally “rotten to the core” and incompatible with domestic and European law.
But the Unionist politician’s initial case was thrown out with Mr Justice Colton rejecting their challenge on all grounds before the group appealed.
The Ulster politicians argue it was unlawful because it conflicted with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the 1800 Acts of Union.
The two-day hearing will commence on November 29 but judges warn this could be affected due to “political developments.”
Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan said this week: “This is an evolving situation, if there are other matters we remind you of the duty of candour.”
Mr Habib said: “The success of our Judicial Review is vital for the integrity of our country.
“Justice delayed in this context may be the end of the United Kingdom.”
It comes as UK officials described as “constructive” the first round of talks in Brussels this week, which came after the EU proposed new measures earlier this month.
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It is understood that while there was common ground in some areas, there were still substantial gaps on what were seen as fundamental issues mainly surrounding governance.
Sources close to the negotiations warned “real progress” must be made soon and a process of “endless negotiation” must be avoided.
A UK Government source said: “We need to see real progress soon rather than get stuck in a process of endless negotiation because the issues on the ground in Northern Ireland haven’t gone away.
“Whether we’re able to establish that momentum soon will help us determine if we can bridge the gap or if we need to use Article 16 to safeguard the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement”.
Mr Habib added of the talks: “Lord Frost has now hunkered down into what will be months of negotiations.
“Nothing is expected to emerge before 2022.”
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