Friday, May 13, 2022

Liz Truss warns the EU will leave Britain ‘no choice’ but tear up the Northern Ireland deal

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The Foreign Minister held talks with her Brussels counterpart Maros Sefcovic on Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, the Foreign Minister held crunch talks with her counterpart Maros Sefcovic on the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.

The EU has been warned by Liz Truss that its refusal to change its negotiating position on the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland risks leaving Britain “no choice” but to tear it up.

It came with Ms Truss and Boris Johnson weighing whether to take unilateral action to tear up parts of the protocol, which they say creates unfair trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and threatens peace and stability in the province .

The EU has threatened a trade war if the Prime Minister scraps the deal he negotiated and agreed in 2019.

Ms Truss and Mr Sefcovic spoke for 30 minutes starting at 8 a.m. Thursday morning in what was understood to be a terse telephone conversation.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Mr Sefcovic in the talks “confirmed that there is no room in Northern Ireland to expand the EU’s negotiating mandate or to come up with new proposals to reduce the overall level of trade tensions”.

They added: “The Foreign Secretary noted with regret and said the situation in Northern Ireland was a matter of internal peace and security for the UK and if the EU would not show the flexibility needed to resolve these issues.” contribute, then as responsible government we would have no choice but to act.”

but I understands that the Foreign Secretary has not given Mr Sefcovic a deadline for the EU to change its mandate before the UK acts unilaterally.

After the talks, Mr Sefcovic said it was “seriously worrying” that the UK was threatening unilateral action on the protocol and warned tearing up an international agreement was “simply not acceptable”.

He insisted that the EU’s proposals to ease trade controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK were “far-reaching and effective” and that “the potential” was still “to be explored”.

But Ms Truss said the EU’s proposals “would bring us back” by “creating more controls and paperwork”.

Brussels has a “responsibility to show more pragmatism” as the protocol is now the “biggest obstacle” to forming a power-sharing executive in Stormont because the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not go into government with the nationalist Sinn Fein will be changed if this is not the case.

She said the agreement had “caused an unacceptable disruption to trade and created a two tier system where people in Northern Ireland would not be treated the same as everyone else in Britain”.

Ms Truss urged Brussels to look into her proposals, including red and green lanes to allow goods to flow freely into the province when not destined for onward transport to the EU.

Government sources said the cabinet could agree on unilateral measures as early as next week unless the EU changes its approach.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Ellis on Thursday expected to repeat the message to the European Parliament on Thursday.

At the first meeting of the UK-EU Partnership Parliamentary Assembly set up under the Brexit trade deal, he will say it is “extremely disappointing” that Brussels will not change its mandate.

He will say the UK will “go ahead” with negotiations but “we will not allow that” to be taken unilaterally on the protocol.

Attorney General Suella Braverman is said to have authorized the repeal of parts of the deal on a controversial Northern Ireland law that gave Mr Johnson the move, despite warnings from US President Joe Biden and European leaders not to meddle in the terms single-handedly .

According to The Times, Ms Braverman had warned that legislation to repeal the protocol was legally sound because of the “disproportionate and unreasonable” way it was implemented by the EU.

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

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

Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney appeared to threaten a trade war if the UK acts unilaterally, warning it would lead to “legal action” and “possible countermeasures”.

Speaking to ITV’s Peston programme, Mr Rees-Mogg said the government would not respond to the EU’s potential increase in tariffs on British exports with similar measures on imports from the continent.

“A retaliation for any instances of this kind is the economics of the school premises and would hurt British consumers at a time of rising (prices),” he said.

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