BELFAST – Pro-unionist politicians on Monday lost an appeal against a High Court judgment that the Northern Ireland protocol governing post-Brexit trade was consistent with British and European Union law.
The court ruled in 2021 that Britain’s EU withdrawal pact,which effectively left Northern Ireland within the EU’s trading orbit given its open border with EU member Ireland, overrode earlier precedents due to the sovereignty of Britain’s parliament and the deal’s status as constitutional legislation.
Siobhan Keegan, Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, said the protocol was “a distinctly political process which is not amenable to judicial review” but it was correct that the court had considered these matters because of the public interest.
Northern Ireland’s High Court rejected all five main arguments made by the parties based on both British and European Union law. The Court of Appeal on Monday dismissed the challenge to those rulings.
The protocol has disrupted some trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom since it took force at the start of 2021, angering pro-British unionists. Britain and the EU are trying to rework it to ease the burden on trade.
The perception that the protocol undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom has sparked anger in pro-British communities, helped fuel some street violence last year and led to the resignation of the region’s first minister last month.
Opponents of the Protocol had seized on the High Court’s assertion in its judgment that the withdrawal agreement qualified as constitutional legislation and was on a par with the 1800 Act of Union that united Britain and Ireland.