express– And former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has said the “shocking” revelation has “wide-ranging” implications. Mr Habib made his remarks on the final day of a Judicial Review of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is currently being heard in the High Court of Northern Ireland in Belfast.
In a message to supporters who have funded the legal action via the Crown Justice website, he said: “I have been listening to the final stages of our hearing.
“Perhaps the most striking thing was the Government not seemingly to contest that Article 6 of the Act of Union 1800 had been breached.
“Instead, it has been arguing that the Withdrawal Agreement Act impliedly repealed Article 6.”
The Act of Union united the Kingdom of the Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
In 1927, it was renamed the Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland after the establishment of what was initially known as the Irish Free State – in other words, the island of Ireland minus the six counties in Ulster – in 1922.
The Irish Free State in turn became the Republic of Ireland as a result of the introduction of a new Irish constitution in December 1937.
Article 6 states: “That it be the sixth article of union, that his Majesty’s subjects of Great Britain and Ireland shall, from and after the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and one, be entitled to the same privileges, and be on the same footing as to encouragements and bounties on the like articles, being the growth, produce, or manufacture of either country respectively, and generally in respect of trade and navigation in all ports and places in the united kingdom and its dependencies; and that in all treaties made by his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, with any foreign power, his Majesty’s subjects of Ireland shall have same the privileges, and be on the same footing as his Majesty’s subjects of Great Britain.”
Mr Habib added: “The Government arguing that this article, of critical constitutional importance, was impliedly repealed by the Withdrawal Agreement Act is an admission that it wilfully and knowingly broke the union of the United Kingdom.
“The implications of this admitted action are wide ranging.
“None of them good, to put it mildly. I was shocked.”
He subsequently told Express.co.uk: “Whatever the judgment, this is incredible stuff.
“What will loyalists think knowing the Government sought to repeal an act which protected their position in the union?
“I think this is dynamite – this is the Prime Minister saying he has breached the Union of the United Kingdom
“He is the Prime Minister of the Conservative and Unionist Party. It is extraordinary.
Express.co.uk understands submissions by barrister Tony McGleenan indicate the UK Government’s case rests on the suggestion that Article 6 was in effect repealed by the Withdrawal Acts of 2018 and 2020.
Express.co.uk has contacted Downing Street for comment.