DUP MLA Edwin Poots has defended an apparent attempt to change the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
The Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly was blocked by the DUP in protest against the protocol, although Mr Poots said he supported the bill.
The Financial Times reported that, when Mr Poots was agriculture secretary, he wrote to the then UK environment secretary George Eustice in July 2021 that it was “unacceptable” that farmers in Northern Ireland were forced to follow the same farm subsidy scheme to do so. rest of the UK accepted.
He argued that “as far as agriculture is concerned, the state aid rules … of the Northern Ireland Protocol allow considerable policy flexibility”.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill proposes to scrap the subsidy control approach we currently have (which works) and extend the (British Subsidy Control Act) (which does not work) to Northern Ireland. This is unacceptable and we need a solution,” he added.
Mr Poots told the paper on Friday that he was “reasonably proposing an amendment that would maximize the UK’s ability to use state aid under World Trade Organization rules”.
He added: “If the NI Protocol Act is retained in its current form, it will remove the EU state aid framework and NI agriculture will fall under the UK’s domestic subsidy control system.
“It makes different demands and the agricultural policy framework must be evaluated in light of this different regime.”
It comes after Mr Poots’ successor, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, said the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement would pass without a government at Stormont unless the protocol was replaced.
The DUP leader said in London on Thursday that the post-Brexit trade deal should be replaced with deals backed by trade unionists.
The DUP insists it will not allow a return to Stormont until the economic trade barriers created by the protocol between Britain and Northern Ireland are removed.
Earlier this week, Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris introduced legislation to bring forward the deadline for the formation of a Northern Ireland chief executive and cut MPs’ pay.
Negotiations between London and Brussels on changes to the protocol continue.
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Source: Bel Fast Live