Boris Johnson says Northern Ireland protocol could work if 'fixed'

UK prime minister demands Brexit rules be applied in 'commonsense way'

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to head for the House of Commons as parliament discusses Brexit, sitting on a Saturday for the first time since the 1982 Falklands War, in London, Britain, October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The Northern Ireland protocol “could in principle work”, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, but it will be a case of “fixing it or ditching it”.

But he did not rule out triggering Article 16.

In an interview with the BBC, the prime minister said: “The fundamental problem for us is that it is very difficult to operate in an environment where the EU system can decide when and how many checks can be carried out across the Irish Sea.

“Goods are being pointlessly interrupted, and it is crazy to have cancer drugs which you can’t move from one part of the UK to another.”

At the same time, he said, the protocol “could in principle work”.

“It has got enough leeway in the language for it to be applied in a commonsense way without creating too many checks down the Irish Sea.”

He was quoted as saying it will be a case of “fixing it or ditching” the protocol.

Asked if he planned to trigger Article 16 during the Conservative Party’s conference next week, Mr Johnson replied: “That depends on the response from the EU.”

He told the BBC that the he had signed on to the protocol because he has an “optimistic view of human nature and thought [the EU] would want to respect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement”.

Mr Johnson added that the protocol was framed to operate “free trade east to west just as much as north to south and that was very, very clear but unfortunately that is not the way it is being operated”.

Updated: October 01, 2021, 7:32 PM