The United Kingdom’s fraught relationship with the European Union over the status of Northern Ireland was thrown into yet further turmoil on Thursday (3 February), after the Northern Ireland executive announced that it was calling for a unilateral withdrawal from key Protocol commitments on border checks.

Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s minister of agriculture, issued instructions to border agents working at Northern Irish ports that they should no longer carry out sanitary and phytosanitary checks on agri-food products coming into Northern Ireland, as from midnight on Thursday. But, in a sign of the administrative chaoswhich is threatening to engulf Northern Ireland, port officials were reported to be widely disregarding the advice from the agriculture minister and continuing to check lorries arriving from Great Britain. Hauliers were also being advised to continue with existing import procedures and paperwork. [...]

[...] The chair of the European Parliament’s international trade committee, Bernd Lange, also weighed in, describing the move on Twitter as “a clear break of the NI protocol”, and one which “will have serious consequences”.