Boris Johnson renews threats to suspend NI Protocol

Whether the Northern Ireland protocol is unlawful or not, it has been a source of disruption and concern for most people trading between the U.K. and Ireland since Brexit. The NI protocol has repeatedly been a hot topic of discussion between the U.K., political parties in both parts of Ireland, the USA, and the European Union, with all involved needing resolution so that it can be moved on from.

On Monday, Boris Johnson renewed threats to unilaterally suspend the NI protocol using article 16 – which allows either the EU or the U.K. to suspend part or all of the protocol if it is imposing serious economic, societal, or environmental difficulties – stating that there was a “necessity to act” if the EU didn’t agree to an overhaul soon.

So why is Boris Johnson renewing these threats now?

The NI Protocol is causing a political imbalance in Ireland


Northern Ireland had an election earlier this month, which saw the Sinn Fein and the DUP win the most, and second-most, seats. The peace treaty in Northern Ireland states that nationalist and union parties must have a power share in place, so these two parties should for the new government.

However, the DUP are leveraging their position by saying they will not form a new government until the NI Protocol has been fixed, having previously stated that it needed to be before they acted independently of Westminister to protect Northern Irish trade. With the Sinn Fein party wishing to have a united Ireland, it is a politically tense time to have no government because of the U.K.’s agreement with the EU.

So what do the DUP want to change?

The NI Protocol has placed restrictions on food arriving from the U.K. into Northern Ireland since 1st January 2021, in line with the rest of the EU’s borders. These restrictions have not been reciprocated for Northern Irish foodstuffs going to the U.K., despite some additional checks for EU imports being introduced and plans for more – which have since been cancelled.
The EU’s rules mean that some businesses in Northern Ireland are struggling with the U.K.’s internal market, so the DUP want the protocol scrapped. But other business circles have urged Boris Johnson to look at tweaks over discarding the protocol, claiming it works for the most part.

The DUP’s stance was made clear on Monday, though, with this statement from the party leader, Jeffery Donaldson:

“The DUP has a mandate to see the Protocol replaced with arrangements that restore our place within the U.K. market. Our mandate will be respected.”

What’s next?

Boris Johnson will continue to:

– Take guidance from the northern Irish community of businesses.
– Try to renegotiate the NI Protocol with the EU.
– Work with the DUP on finding a compromise and stabilising the government in Northern Ireland. 


Do you need advice on the NI Protocol or other customs services?

The NI Protocol will continue to affect trade with Northern Ireland for the foreseeable, stay informed by signing up to our newsletter below. For all other customs clearance advice, contact one of our experts.



* indicates required
NI Protocol - Cropped
Scroll to Top