‘You decided this!’ Michel Barnier lashes out at ‘cynical’ Boris Johnson over protocol

Barnier calls Boris Johnson ‘cynical’ over Protocol

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As tensions are ratcheting up between the European Union and Boris Johnson’s Government over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier hit out at Boris Johnson for reneging on the deal. In January 2020, both blocs agreed and signed the protocol with the aim of protecting the Good Friday Agreement and leaving the border open between the two Irelands. Instead of putting up a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, they bilaterally decided to create a checks border in the Irish Sea.

An incredulous Michel Barnier slammed on French broadcaster Public Sénat: “The most serious thing is what the British government has just decided in a form of cynicism. 

“By calling into question the treaty that they themselves negotiated.

“And I can testify that they know every comma, every sentence, every breath of that treaty.

“Because they negotiated all of it – Mr Johnson himself, who was the negotiator I had right in front of me.”

Michel Barnier was at the negotiating table with the UK from 2016 until 2020 when he became the main negotiator of the Brexit trade deal. In 2021, he was appointed as special advisor to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to oversee the ratification of the EU-UK trade deal.

“And so, to come and question this treaty, I think it’s cynical”, Mr Barnier added.

When asked about the risk of moving closer to a trade war, he answered: “(We’re) closer to reopening tension and conflict.”

“I was reading a letter that two members of the US Congress. This is a very closely watched case in the US.

“Not only by Biden who has Irish ancestry but by many members of Congress, Senators and Representatives.

“And two of them who are the heads of the House European Affairs Committee wrote yesterday that the most serious outcome of the Brexit would indeed be to reopen a climate of violence.”

When the UK and the EU negotiated the Northern Ireland protocol, both sides pledged to protect the Good Friday agreement and avoid a physical border in Ireland at all costs. Setting up a border would likely trigger political instability and violence.

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“And I think that is unfortunately possible if the British do not take responsibility”, Mr Barnier said.

“What I see is that they are cynical, the present government, they don’t live up to their history or their reputation.

“I think what Mr Johnson’s government is doing does not live up to the history, the reputation of this great country that is the United Kingdom.

“Nor does it live up to what they themselves decided when they wanted Brexit.”

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