UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has announced that she will introduce a bill that will unilaterally make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol. No date has been given but it is expected to take several weeks.

She said the purpose was to create a “dual regulatory system, that encompasses either EU or UK regulation as those businesses choose, with no checks on goods destined for Northern Ireland and controls on goods in transit to the Republic of Ireland.

The current agreement requires all goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain to be subject to the same controls, as Northern Ireland is treated by the EU as part of the single market.

The foreign secretary did say that it was the UK government’s preferred solution that these changes could be negotiated with the EU and that unilateral action was in the event that the negotiation failed.

European Commission vice president, Maroš Šefcovic reacted negatively following Truss’ announcement in the House of Commons. “Unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement are not acceptable,” he said.

He added that if the UK goes ahead with the plan, the EU will “respond with all measures at its disposal” - a veiled reference to the provision in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement to introduce tariffs or even suspend the agreement itself which would create an effectively no deal situation.

This would be the worst nightmare for Irish farmers given the tariff burden it would incur.