| 31 January 2023, Tuesday |

UK to unilaterally continue suspending Northern Ireland border checks

In a move that is likely to irritate the EU but won’t lead to further action, the UK has unilaterally decided to keep suspending border checks on farm products and other goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

In its formal response to seven lawsuits filed by the EU over the alleged noncompliance of the UK with the Northern Ireland protocol, London informed Brussels of its choice on Thursday.

The UK will also request that a full specialised committee on EU programmes, the official forum for Brexit implementation issues, takes place next week to discuss the ongoing exclusion of Britain from the flagship Horizon Europe science funds.


The lack of political rhetoric, occasioned by the death of the Queen, could avert a difficult meeting with Biden on the sidelines of next week’s funeral and in a potential bilateral with Liz Truss in the US next week.

The letter to the EU comes two months after the European Commission launched four infringement proceedings, accusing London of failing to comply with the application of the customs checks and risk controls on the movement of goods into Northern Ireland. It also accused the UK of failing to implement VAT rules or to follow the notification procedures on alcohol duties.

The four proceedings followed three separate legal suits issued the previous month by Brussels.

Legal proceedings began in March 2021 when the former Brexit minister Lord Frost first unilaterally suspended Brexit checks on farm produce and other goods.

Brussels is now expected to push ahead with the legal process but, like the UK, will pursue a twin-track approach aimed at finding a negotiated solution.

  • The Guardian