Changes will have to be made to Northern Ireland Protocol, Lewis tells MPs

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Secretary of State Brandon Lewis

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has said it is reasonable to take the view that changes will be made to the Northern Ireland Protocol as it is “not sustainable” in its current form.

The comments came after outgoing DUP leader Edwin Poots said he had received a personal assurance from the UK Government that significant changes will be made to the Protocol.

The UK Government and the EU are locked in a dispute over the implementation of the Protocol, the part of the Brexit divorce deal aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland.

Appearing before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Mr Lewis was asked what he had told Mr Poots.

He said: “We are very clear that the current position of the Protocol is not sustainable, it is causing issues for businesses and consumers and citizens in Northern Ireland and we need to rectify that.

“Ultimately for us there is a very core point about the Protocol, which is about protecting and respecting the UK’s internal market and not disrupting everyday lives of people in communities.

“We want to get that rectified and we are determined to do so, so I think it is reasonable for anybody to take the view that we have said that there will be changes because there has to be, the current status quo is not sustainable.”

Mr Lewis continued: “At the moment it’s very questionable whether it’s going to be sustainable in its current format and I think that’s why it’s in everybody’s interests to see it rectified.”

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