‘EU has got to move!’ Rejoiner plea falls on deaf ears in Brussels ahead of EU-UK meeting

Brexit: Jacob Rees-Mogg weighs in on Northern Ireland Protocol

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More than 30 UK MPs and peers will travel to the Belgian capital this morning for the first meeting of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly to discuss post-Brexit relations with the bloc.

A similar number of participants will join the meeting from Brussels’ side, including European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, foreign affairs official Stefano Sannino and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

The meeting comes as the UK Government and Brussels are still locking horns over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ahead of his trip to Brussels, vice-chair of the UK delegation Hilary Benn told Politico: “I hope as this forum develops, we can think about how this new relationship between the EU and UK is going to look like.

“We’re still hugely important trading partners, as geographically close as before.

“We’ve closely cooperated on Ukraine.

“Now it’s about building a new but different relationship over the months and years ahead.”

But the Labour MP, a staunch Remainer, expressed frustration over Brussels’ reluctance to show compromise on the Protocol.

He said: “The government signed a treaty and you can’t just abrogate that.

“But I do think the EU has got to move further in sorting out the problems the protocol creates.

“We’re more than a year into this. Can anyone point to any examples of where the integrity of the single market has been breached?

“We have to recognise that Northern Ireland is in a special position. I think there’s a pragmatic solution if both sides work together.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will also hold crunch talks with the vice president of the European Commission in the coming hours as ministers consider whether to override parts of the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

Attorney General Suella Braverman is said to have approved the scrapping of swathes of the agreement, giving Boris Johnson legal cover to make the move, despite warnings from Joe Biden’s White House and European leaders not to single-handedly meddle with the terms.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the Good Friday Agreement was more important than the Northern Ireland Protocol as he dismissed suggestions of any possible escalatory response from the European Union as “crazy”.

He said there was no need for “drama” as he doubled down on hints he could override elements of the deal.

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Ms Truss is expected to tell Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic in a call on Thursday morning that the dispute over Northern Ireland cannot drag on.

She had warned she would “not shy away” from taking action as she accused the EU of proposing solutions that would “take us backwards”.

According to The Times, Ms Braverman had advised that legislation to override the protocol would be legally sound because of the “disproportionate and unreasonable” way it has been implemented by the EU.

She has submitted evidence accusing the EU of undermining the Good Friday Agreement by creating a trade barrier in the Irish Sea, and warned of “societal unrest” in Northern Ireland, the newspaper said.

There is said to be a rift in the Cabinet over the move, with Ms Truss, Ms Braverman and Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg reportedly in favour, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak is concerned about the impact on the economy.

There have been suggestions that unilateral action by the UK could spark a trade war against the backdrop of the invasion of Ukraine.

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