We will act! Boris renews threat to torpedo hated Brexit deal unless EU backs down

Barnier calls Boris Johnson ‘cynical’ over Protocol

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The Prime Minister said the UK would have a “necessity to act” if the EU is unwilling to reach a compromise with the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol. While he said the UK Government remained “open to genuine dialogue”, he insisted a compromise would require a significant change of negotiating position from the EU. This comes as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is reportedly preparing draft legislation that would unilaterally scrap key parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The legislation would remove the need for checks on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It would also remove the European Court of Justice’s powers and remove any requirement for Northern Irish businesses to comply with EU regulations.

A Government source confirmed to the Guardian that Ms Truss plans to move unilaterally.

However, they denied the UK has given up on negotiating.

The protocol, which was agreed upon as a temporary part of the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK left the EU, allowed Northern Ireland to remain within the EU’s single market for goods. But its continuence was always subject to a referendum in Northern Ireland after five years.

It has faced criticism because a border was effectively created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea. This led to delays, supermarket shortages and increased costs for businesses in Northern Ireland. At one point the EU even tried to prevent vaccines going to the Province.

The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol since October 2021.

While the European Commission has claimed it is “bending over backwards” to fix the problems with the protocol it has refused to countenance any compromise and no agreement on the issue has been reached.

Instead sources in the EU has threatened a trade war if the UK scraps the Protocol unilaterally.

Recently, Lord Frost, who had previously been the Government’s Brexit negotiator, warned that the Good Friday peace deal was being threatened by the continuation of the Protocol.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Boris Johnson said: “We have been told by the EU that it is impossible to make the changes to the protocol text to actually solve these problems in negotiations – because there is no mandate to do so.

“We will always keep the door wide open to genuine dialogue.

“There is without question a sensible landing spot in which everyone’s interests are protected.

“I hope the EU’s position changes.

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“If it does not, there will be a necessity to act.

“The Government has a responsibility to provide assurance that the consumers, citizens and businesses of Northern Ireland are protected in the long-term.

“We will set out a more detailed assessment and next steps to Parliament in the coming days”.

Earlier, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney had warned that there would be a “consequence” if the UK took such a route.

He said such a move has the potential to “fundamentally undermine” the peace process in Northern Ireland, adding that it would be “deeply harmful” to UK-Ireland relations.

Speaking to Sky News, he added: “The last thing the EU wants, the last thing that Ireland wants, is tension with the UK, particularly at the moment given what’s happening in Ukraine, Russian aggression, and the need to work together on an international stage.

“Unfortunately, it has been the briefings that have come from the British Government this week that have raised a real red flag in Dublin and in Brussels because the British Government is now threatening to break international law to break a treaty that they signed with the EU.”

The UK has previously threatened to trigger Article 16, a provision within the protocol that could allow for parts of the agreement to be suspended if the treaty is causing “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.

While Article 16 has not been ruled out, Ms Truss now sees domestic legislation to be a “better option”, Government sources told the BBC.

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