Keir Starmer discuses Brexit and a second referendum
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A leading Brexiteer has launched a furious attack against the UK Government after claiming the European Union are “absolutely thoroughly enjoying” the UK suffering with the hated Brexit deal. Britain officially left the EU more than two years ago but a bitter row over the Northern Ireland Protocol has sent tensions between the two sides soaring. Boris Johnson and Liz Truss both threatened to unilaterally override the agreement governing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, triggering a furious retaliatory warning from Brussels.
Tensions appear to have simmered slightly under current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with talks resuming on Monday over the issue.
But Ben Habib, the former Brexit MEP and ardent critic of the Protocol, claiming it is causing so much damage it is leading to what he describes as a “punishment beating”.
He told Express.co.uk: “The EU are absolutely thoroughly enjoying the UK suffering with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was designed to cause maximum damage to the UK.
“It has one of two aims – either to remove Northern Ireland from the UK and show all member states that if you leave the bloc then this is the kind of thing that happens. Your country is dismembered – I call that a ‘punishment beating’.
“Alternatively, it was designed for the rest of the UK to join the EU Single Market so that the difference between Great Britain and Northern Ireland evaporated.
“I’m absolutely convinced the EU are delighting in the twists, turns and cartwheels our politicians are doing, trying somehow to square the integrity of the country with their wish to maintain relations with the EU.”
Mr Habib accused the UK of “taking a knee to the EU” over the Protocol while claiming the UK remains “joined at the hip” to the European bloc.
He said: “We haven’t got Brexit. It’s dangerous to accept or concede that we do have Brexit. We can’t claim we have got Brexit done until the UK has left the European Union as one country.
“Northern Ireland can’t be left behind under the EU laws adjudicated by EU courts with a border down the Irish Sea.
“Brexit meant the UK being able to make its own laws to chart its own independent direction for what is in the interests of British people, then neither have we got Brexit by that measure.
“The Trade and Cooperation Agreement binds us into so many commitments. The UK is still joined at the hip by the EU, so clearly we still don’t have Brexit.”
The former MEP further warned: “We either have the courage to break with the EU and take control of our own country, in which case Brussels is going to be upset. Or we comply and we take a knee to the EU and at the moment, our Government is taking a knee to the EU.”
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On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris held talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in London.
Both parties hailed a deal hailed a deal in the area of post-Brexit data-sharing and EU access to British IT systems as a key step in resolving the ongoing row over the Protocol
A joint statement after the meeting read: “They underlined the EU and UK’s shared commitment to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its parts, while protecting the integrity of both the EU single market and the UK internal market,” it said.
“They agreed that while a range of critical issues need to be resolved to find a way forward, an agreement was reached today on the way forward regarding the specific question of the EU’s access to UK IT systems.
“They noted this work was a critical prerequisite to building trust and providing assurance, and provided a new basis for EU-UK discussions.”
Ina tweet following the meeting, Mr Cleverly wrote: “We share the same focus – finding the best outcome for Northern Ireland. Today’s progress on data-sharing marks a positive step in discussions on the NI Protocol.”
Mr Sefcovic called it a “new basis” for UK-EU discussions on the Protocol but while Downing Street said the data agreement was an “important step forward” and “a foundation for building further trust”, there was also a warning.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There are still significant issues at the heart of the protocol that need addressing.”
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