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The Northern Ireland protocol is said to be a blight on regional economy. That’s just not true

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Whenever Boris Johnson’s government wades into battle over the Northern Ireland protocol, it wields one assertion like a broadsword: that the protocol is ruining the region’s economy.

Checks on goods entering Northern Ireland are disrupting trade, increasing prices and bankrupting businesses, and the damage will worsen unless the protocol is changed, goes the argument.The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a rightwing thinktank, joined the fray last week with a report that estimated the annual cost of the agreement at £850m.“It underlines the many costs of the current situation – economic, fiscal, and in trade diversion,” said David Frost, the government’s former Brexit negotiator. “If the EU will not negotiate, then the government will be right to intervene unilaterally to restore stability.”The problem with this justification for slashing the protocol – and risking a trade war with the EU – is that it is bogus.

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