As this is breaking news, and I have no time to develop a hot (or even a cold) take, I’m putting this here:
Says civil servants would be “absolutely obliged” to follow his instructions.
“We believe that the checks continuing would be unlawful.” pic.twitter.com/OzhlJvIKzc
— David Young (@DavidYoungPA) January 27, 2022
UPDATE: In David’s report in the Irish News…
In September 2020, ahead of the checks coming into effect, SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone asked Mr Poots what legal advice he had sought in the event he fails to make the preparations required by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to carry out the checks.
In his reply, Mr Poots said his department had responsibility for carrying out agri-food safety checks and was required by UK domestic law to comply with that duty.
He also said the department would be open to potential legal challenges or damages claims if it failed to “implement its responsibilities”.
“Legal advice has been sought during various stages of the programme from the Departmental Solicitors Office and from the Attorney General,” he wrote.
“DSO has advised that the obligation to implement the NI Protocol is on the UK Government, and it has given the protocol domestic legal effect by Section 7A of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It has ongoing obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement to create the legal effects set out in it.
“The Official Controls Regulation (OCR) requirements are part of domestic law as a result of Article 5(4) of the NI Protocol and S 7A of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
“Under the OCR, Daera is responsible for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on certain goods coming into Northern Ireland. Daera is therefore required by UK domestic law to ensure compliance with its legal duties under the OCR.”
He continued: “The consequences of a failure by the Department to implement its responsibilities may be a judicial review or a claim for damages by affected parties.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:
Significant scoop by @MargaretCan: Liz Truss indicates that when DUP minister Edwin Poots halts (probably within days) many Irish Sea border checks at ports, the UK Government will not use its power to over-rule him. Civil servants' position now trickier. https://t.co/MtuyUooCIT
— Sam McBride (@SJAMcBride) January 27, 2022
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty