‘Brussels WON’T blink first!’ Boris told he must ‘back down’ in Brexit row –expert warning
Brexit: Barnier says things will be 'more difficult' for UK
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Brexit tensions between Britain and the European Union have surged over recent weeks, with talks collapsing between UK Brexit minister Lord Frost and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic over a solution to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Brussels has threatened to launch a trade war against Britain if it does not implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit deal.
Under the terms of the Brexit trade agreement struck at the end of last year, the UK and EU can impose tariffs on the other’s exports for breaching the pact, pending independent arbitration.
Earlier this week, Brussels urged the UK to consider a Swiss-style veterinary agreement with the bloc on agri-foods to end a row over some goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.
But Lord Frost insisted Britain will not adopt EU law on agri-foods to solve difficulties with post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland.
He told think tank the Policy Exchange: “Obviously aligning with, or adopting, the EU’s agri-food legislation is not going to be a solution.
“We are sometimes accused of being ideological for not accepting that, but actually the ideological thing is to say the only solution to these problems is that we should adopt EU law, and that is simply a non-starter.”
But political experts are warning the EU holds the advantage in the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol and claimed the UK is running out of options at the negotiating table.
Wyn Grant, a British political scientist and professor of politics at the University of Warwick, told Express.co.uk: “The EU and the UK have reached an impasse in their negotiations.
“Admittedly, the UK could follow Switzerland in temporarily accepting agriculture and veterinary regulations (which is where the main problems are), but that would be seen as incompatible with the spirit of Brexit.
“The UK signed up to the Protocol, but does not seem to realise its implications, or at least thought that the EU would interpret it ‘pragmatically’ or ‘flexibly’ which does not happen in a continental law tradition.”
He further warned: “The EU is not going to blink first and is prepared to take further legal action and/or impose tariffs on UK exports.
“Trust has broken down between the parties. There are not many options for the UK in terms of retaliation.
“Tensions could escalate much further than anticipated.
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“Hanging over it all is the threat of a turbulent summer in Northern Ireland and substantial damage to the peace process.”
The Prime Minister has also been told to back down in the UK’s explosive row with the EU as it’s a battle he can’t win and would be foolish to retaliate against any punishment from Brussels.
Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics and a University Teacher Fellow at De Montfort in Leicester warned Brussels “is in the right” and “holds all the cards” in the escalating row over the Protocol.
He told Express.co.uk: “The EU is in the right. They were in the wrong over the vaccines issue earlier this year, when Ursula von der Leyen activated Article 16 and then retracted within hours of issuing it.
“In that circumstance, as she subsequently admitted, she was in the wrong.
“Currently, the EU has the upper hand and holds all the cards.
“The UK has tried to bluff everything eg asking for extra time before enforcing the agreement.
“Lord Frost has suggested that the EU is in the wrong by not allowing any flexibility.
“They do not need to, as the Protocol was approved by Parliament.”
He also warned: “The UK will have to back down.
“If the EU were to punish the UK, any attempt from Boris to retaliate would be a disaster.
“The rest of the world would see the UK making an agreement with the EU, then failing to abide by said agreement (even though it was ratified in the UK Parliament) and trying to pick a fight because they do not like what they have agreed or were unaware of the consequences of said agreement.
“It will do nothing for the UK’s international credibility or the attempts to strike deals with other countries.”
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