Politics

More voters blame EU for Brexit trade problems than UK government

More voters blame the EU for post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland than the UK government, a new poll has found.

Almost half of British voters aware of the difficulties in implementing Northern Ireland Protocol rules blame Brussels for those frictions – while less than one-third blames Boris Johnson’s government.

Some 45 per cent think the EU is mostly responsible for the trade problems in the province, compared with just 31 percent who believe the UK is mostly responsible, according to the latest Redfield and Wilton Strategies survey.

The EU and UK remain completely at odds over the implementation of new checks and processes on goods being shipped into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

The dispute remains at an impasse, after the EU Commission said it would pause legal action against the UK over alleged breaches of the deal agreed last year in the hope solutions could still be found.

The Redfield and Wilton poll for Politico revealed that a significant chunk of the British electorate is completely unaware of the post-Brexit quarrel between the UK and EU.

It found that almost one in four voters – 23 per cent – said they were not aware of any problems implementing the protocol in Northern Ireland.

Among those who had followed the dispute, 17 percent said they were “very aware” of protocol problems, 25 per cent say they were “somewhat aware” and 35 per cent of people were “moderately aware”.

The EU has rejected the a “command paper” put forward by the UK government suggested the protocol is radically reworked to limit the checks on goods.

Downing Street has rejected Brussels’ proposal for a Swiss-style veterinary agreement with Brussels to reduce checks since it would mean aligning with EU standards.

Northern Ireland’s newly-appointed first minister Paul Givan said the EU’s decision to pause legal action has allowed both sides a “window of opportunity” to resolve post-Brexit trading issues.

The senior DUP figure said the UK government recognises the “political, societal and economic harm” caused by protocol – and urged the Irish government to make clear to Brussels that changes would have to be made.

Peers warned last week that the protocol risks becoming a constant irritant in future EU-UK relations unless both sides change their “fundamentally flawed” approaches to resolving the dispute.

A House of Lords committee set up to examine the controversial post-Brexit trading arrangements for the Irish Sea has warned that Northern Ireland could become a “permanent casualty” of Brexit unless compromise is found urgently.

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