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British PM Johnson defends post-Brexit move on Northern Irish protocol

LONDON, March 12 (Xinhua) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that the decision to suspend parts of the Northern Irish Brexit protocol was lawful and right.

“What we’re doing is taking some lawful, some technical measures to build up confidence in the east-west operation (of the protocol),” Johnson was quoted as saying by Reuters on a visit to Northern Ireland.

“We think it’s lawful, and indeed, we think it’s right, in view of the impact on the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, and the need to have consent from both communities,” Johnson said, referring to an agreement signed in April 1998 to help bring to an end a period of conflict in Northern Ireland called the Troubles.

The remarks came after Britain unilaterally extended grace periods for implementing post-Brexit checks on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The first of these periods was to expire at the end of March but Britain said they will be extended until October.

Brussels said Britain’s move breaches international law, signaling that it was considering legal action against London.

Britain’s exports of goods to the European Union (EU) fell by 40.7 percent in January while imports from the regional bloc dropped by 28.8 percent, the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Friday.

In contrast to the falling exports to the EU, Britain’s exports of medicines and pharmaceutical products to non-EU countries increased by 0.3 billion pounds (about 0.42 billion U.S. dollars) in January, and a large proportion is represented by increasing exports to China and Japan, according to the ONS. Enditem

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