Centre for the Union
Constitutional Studies Group
The Centre for the Union has today (Monday 9 January 2023) published a detailed paper on the constitutional impact of the NI Protocol, and proposals on a way forward to resolve the impasse.
The paper titled ‘Restoring Northern Ireland’s place in the Union’ was commissioned by our constitutional studies group and is authored by Jamie Bryson and Ethan Thoburn, with a foreword by eminent counsel, Mr James Bogle BL.
The proposals on the way forward include:
• A UK Constitutional Bill (a draft of which is included) which would entrench the supremacy of the Acts of Union; restrict the legislative competence of the NI Assembly to prevent the adoption of any provision incompatible with the Acts of Union; and amend section 1 (the principle of consent) of the NI Act 1998 to encompass the Acts of Union within the meaning of Northern Ireland remaining part of the Union.
• A model which would end the application of EU law in Northern Ireland by transposing EU law which currently applies in respect of NI- only in so far as it mirrors GB- into domestic law as Retained EU law and requiring that any further EU law adopted be subject to the cross-community consent of the NI Assembly.
• The development of a new regulatory model which restores NI fully to the UK’s customs territory and creates an ‘EU tunnel’ which requires those exporting from anywhere in the UK into the EU via the entry point of the Republic of Ireland to self-declare, with criminal penalties for failing to do so, or for exporting without adhering to EU standards.
The authors, Jamie Bryson and Ethan Thoburn said:
“Our paper sets out broad concepts which, in general terms, we are confident will command broad support, particularly in regards our draft UK Constitutional Bill.
“There are many different views within unionism as to the best technical and legislative route to achieving our shared objective of restoring NI’s place in the Union, which requires the removal of the Protocol. That is why we major within our report on key overarching principles such as the restoration of the Acts of Union, the ending of EU law and the UK Supreme Court being the ultimate judicial authority, and it is those principles which must underpin any solution.
“We hope our paper clearly illuminates that, and whilst there will be many different views and scope for discussion within the unionist family about the technical solutions we have proposed and the means of implementing them, we are confident- particularly given the engagement we have undertaken with key stakeholders- that the overarching key themes and principles are reflective of the present collective unionist position, certainly on the part of all those genuinely opposed to the Protocol.”
You can download the full paper which is free to access: