Boris Johnson discusses Northern Ireland protocol
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Brussels is furious at Downing Street’s decision to delay the implementation of trade checks on supermarket supplies between mainland Britain and the region. Eurocrats are set to trigger legal action against the UK, arguing the unilateral decision to extend grace periods are a breach of the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol and international law. Dacian Ciolos, president of the liberal bloc of Renew MEPs, fumed: “Breaching international law is not what serious government’s do.
“Allies, neighbours and friends work together to find solutions.
“The UK was once a champion of the rule of law in Europe; we expect our partners to honour the agreements we make together.”
No10 is concerned the introduction of Brussels bureaucracy could spark a food shortage in Northern Ireland.
To keep the Irish border open, the region effectively remains part of the EU’s single market and some checks are now made on goods arriving from the rest of the UK.
The Government believes extending the grace periods is the “bare minimum” needed to help people and businesses adjust to life under the Brexit deal’s border plan.
As a result of the move, the European Commission is planning a “twin-track” legal challenge against Britain.
Maros Sefcovic, the Commission vice-president in charge of Brexit, is expected to trigger infringement proceedings today.
This could see Mr Johnson hauled in front of the European Court of Justice, which retains control over the Brexit divorce agreement.
The Slovak diplomat will also send a political letter to No10, insisting the Government is in breach of the “good faith” commitments it signed up to as part of the treaty.
This could trigger the dispute mechanism in the post-Brexit trade and security deal, essentially handing Brussels the powers to retaliate by suspending parts of the pact if Britain refuses to comply.
Whitehall insiders fear the bloc’s bureaucratic approach to Northern Ireland could risk further flare-ups.
Tensions have already been at breaking point after the introduction of post-Brexit trade checks in the Irish Sea.
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Customs officials had previously been withdrawn from ports because of fears over their safety.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for changes to be made to the Brexit border plans.
Speaking on a trip to Northern Ireland, he said: “We want to ensure that the protocol upholds the wishes of both communities and has the consent of both. There has got to be East-West consent to what is going on as well as North-South. We want to make sure that is built into that.”
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DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned not a single Unionist party in Northern Ireland supports the arrangements.
The First Minister said: “Not a single unionist party in Northern Ireland supports this unworkable protocol. Rather than protect the Belfast Agreement and its successor agreements, the protocol has created societal division and economic harm.
“Whilst grace periods have been extended unilaterally, we need a permanent solution so business can plan and the integrity of the United Kingdom internal market can be restored.”
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