Brexit Britain still stuck in EU’s ‘lunar orbit’ says Ben Habib
And the pair have also warned European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the bloc will inevitably lose if eurocrats are “foolish enough” to start a trade war with Britain. The Protocol is a huge bone of contention between the UK and the EU.
Intended to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, critics in the Unionist community claim it has instead resulted in a border down the Irish Sea, effectively driving a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Former Brexit Party MEP Mr Habib and Baroness Hoey – formerly Labour MP Kate Hoey – have been instrumental in launching a Judicial Review which they hope will rule the Protocol to be illegal.
In an op-ed in The Sunday Telegraph, they wrote: “Let us start by accepting the truth – Parliament did not vote to partition the UK, so the Protocol’s existence is illegal.
Ursula von der Leyen and Tory leadership contender Liz Truss
Ben Habib and Kate Hoey are both involved in the Judicial Review case
“The Government should rightly concede the Judicial Review we brought against it and which is due to be heard by the Supreme Court in November.”
It had been difficult for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to accept the Protocol’s illegality because he created it, but Ms Truss would not be restricted in such a way, they pointed out.
They added: “She has already moved against it with her Bill but that bill does not fully neuter the Protocol; it entails reams of additional legislation and an uphill battle with the House of Lords; plus, she will always be accused of breaking international law.
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“Instead, by conceding the Judicial Review, the Protocol would immediately be illegal – from inception.”
They explained: “Immediately, under international convention, it would then be the EU that would have broken international law (by signing an agreement in breach of fundamental domestic British law).
“In one legal and morally correct step, the Protocol would be gone.
“Whichever route she chooses, now is the right time for Truss to take decisive action. In Truss both of us and the people of Northern Ireland are trusting.”
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Ben Habib is a former Brexit Party MEP
Ben Habib suggested the EU would lose a trade war with the UK
They also took aim at the EU for its attitude towards the UK, as epitomised by the announcement of more legal action by Brussels last week over the UK’s non-compliance with terms of the Protocol.
They added: “You do not deal with a bully by ceding ground. You most certainly do not do so when the threat is to the fabric of your own country.
“Not every Tory MP agrees with us, however. Many, Rishi Sunak apparently included, would prefer to give up on sorting out the Protocol than face a trade war.”
However, fears over such an outcome were groundless, Mr Habib and Baroness Hoey stressed.
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They said: “The EU is in no position to enter such a conflict and, if it were foolish enough to start one, we would win.
“Its economy is in deep trouble. Already massively over-indebted before the extra borrowing required to fund lockdowns, it now faces rising interest rates and an energy crisis.
Many EU member states were nursing debt burdens well in excess of 100 per cent of GDP with Germany’s debt level more than 70 per cent, they pointed out.
They added: “The UK has similar problems but our position is better because we have our own currency and a genuine central bank.
Rishi Sunak was criticised by Mr Habib and Ms Hoey in the column
“Hence, any threat of a trade war with the UK is vacuous. And if the EU did pick a fight, it would have to implement a customs border on the island of Ireland, doing the very thing it claimed would be unthinkable and which the Protocol was purportedly enacted to prevent. Their duplicity would finally be revealed.
“Our Government would not implement checks on our side of the border, just as none are taking place for goods coming to the mainland at the moment.
“The contrast of a protectionist EU and an open UK would pull the rug out from under the false narrative to which our government bowed in agreeing to the Protocol.
Surely even the weakest within our government must see that now is the time to ditch it?”