Brandon’s sausage victory

Brandon Lewis’s approach signals Michael Gove’s waning influence

Today in an answer to Bernard Jenkin about sausage imports into Ulster from the mainland UK, the Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said that he, like the Prime Minister, was “determined to ensure that the Great British banger… will continue to be enjoyed by those who wish to across the counties of Northern Ireland in perpetuity”.

The ban on sausages coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain is due to come into force on 1 July which means the UK Government increasingly seems committed to chipping away at the Northern Ireland protocol.

Previously they have unilaterally extended the grace periods exempting supermarkets from checks on goods being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and introduced a moratorium on customs declarations for parcels being sent to Ulster.

I’ve previously written about the three options that were discussed in Government about how to deal with the Protocol. Today’s chilled meat announcement suggests the Government is implementing option “B”. Trying to remove the Protocol in a way that the UK can’t be accused of breaking International Law. Brandon Lewis still maintains that the UK is going to implement the Protocol in full but “perpetuity” suggests something a little different. Ministers in favour of this argument say that tearing the whole thing up would seriously dent the UK’s international agreements but they are confident they can persuade the EU to move to a system that protects the EU internal market without causing the large disruption in trade between the UK and Northern Ireland, something the ERG have called for.

Brandon Lewis is said to be in favour of this course of action, as is Lord Frost. But Michael Gove, who did so much to put the Protocol in place, is said to be in favour of option “A”, implementing the agreement with the EU in full. It seems Mr Gove has, for now, lost the argument.

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