UK Foreign Office video on protocol criticised as ‘Trumpian propaganda’

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said the ‘absolutely ridiculous video’ would damage trust with the UK Government.

Fine Gael’s Neale Richmond
Fine Gael’s Neale Richmond

A video by the UK Foreign Office criticising the Northern Ireland Protocol has been condemned as “Trumpian propaganda” in the Irish parliament.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond raised concerns in the Dail on Wednesday that the “absolutely ridiculous video” had originated from an institution of the state, and said it would damage trust with the UK.

He said the UK Government was “absolutely trashing” the post-Brexit agreement which “they themselves agreed just over a year ago”.

The video, posted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) at around 2pm on Wednesday, said the protocol was putting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement at risk and “undermining the UK’s internal market and prosperity”.

It also claimed that it is “negatively impacting community groups” including the Jewish community.

“About an hour ago, the UK’s FCO put out the most ridiculous tweet that can only be described as Trumpian propaganda,” Mr Richmond told the Dail.

Mr Richmond questioned the timing of the tweet, at a time when Western solidarity is required over the situation in Ukraine and when UK-EU negotiations on Brexit are “supposedly moving to a better place”.

“Out of nowhere, we have this absolutely ridiculous video, put out by a Government institution, not a politician, by the FCO saying all manner of things about how the Northern Irish protocol works,” he added.

“I have to ask, once again… are we being taken by mugs?

“The British Government are saying one thing in one meeting, dealing with their own domestic chaos in Westminster, and then saying the opposite things that they have been saying in meetings in a video, in a publication by a civil service body.

“It’s not by a politician. It’s not a column in the Daily Express or the Mail on Sunday that we can dismiss from a disgruntled Brexiteer of the ERG or whatever it is.

“This is an institution of the state, a state we have a very close relationship with, but has been tested over the last couple of years.

“But we need to have a relationship based on honesty, based on trust.

“The best friend you can be to someone is being honest with them.

“So how, in the name of God, are we going to progress relations and get a solution to the protocol, when you have the British Government absolutely trashing once again, in an official basis, the very agreement they themselves agreed just over a year ago.”

In the video, a number of claims are made about the post-Brexit agreement, which was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, but has placed trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Britain.

The protocol was negotiated and signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and became a cornerstone of his successful 2019 election campaign.

The Foreign Office video was posted alongside a tweet that read: “The Northern Ireland Protocol was designed to protect the peace process and respect all communities in Northern Ireland. It is doing the opposite.”

The video stated: “The protocol prevents the free flow of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, undermining the UK’s internal market and prosperity.

“Seventy-eight per cent of people in Northern Ireland have said that the protocol could be improved.

“The protocol is negatively impacting community groups, including the Jewish community, who have struggled to obtain Kosher food.

“The Northern Ireland Protocol needs to be fixed. That is why we are in intensive talks with the EU to achieve a solution.”

Mr Richmond added that the “architects of Brexit” were now “failing to pick up their duties and implement their responsibilities”.

The FCDO has been contacted for comment.

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