EU 'using Northern Ireland to undo Brexit' says Sammy Wilson
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Brexit minister Lord Frost and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic ended more than three hours of talks on Wednesday without finding a breakthrough on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Following the discussions, Mr Sefcovic warned his patience was wearing “very, very thin” and threatened the prospect of an all-out trade war if the UK refused to implement checks on goods.
Lord Frost stressed the Protocol, created to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, is being interpreted by the EU in an “extremely purist way”.
The Brexit chief called for “pragmatic solutions” to be found, but refused to rule out the prospect of the UK unilaterally delaying checks on chilled meats entering Northern Ireland, which are due to come into force at the end of June.
The rigid stance taken by the EU has triggered a furious reaction from a number of Express.co.uk readers, who let their opinions known in the comments section of an earlier story.
A number of readers called on the UK to trigger the emergency Article 16 mechanism, while others urged the Government to walk away completely.
One reader wrote: “Do not give in to this cesspit of corruption. Trigger article 16 and let the EU know the introduction of the deal to the shredder is imminent.”
A second added: “The EU claim that they want to honour the Good Friday Agreement, to keep the peace, but their actions are causing the unrest and destruction of the peace.”
A third wrote: “Well done Frosty. Now to tell them that the agreement is now dead.”
A fourth said: “You can’t argue with madness. It’s a fact. Drop the pretence and dump the EU.”
Meanwhile, a fifth added: “NI Protocol and their precious trade deal – shred it and burn it.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol was created to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of EU markets.
As part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, Belfast remained tied to the EU single market and customs union.
The move has sparked anger from Unionists who argue this has put a border down the Irish Sea and torn apart the UK.
Britain took the unilateral decision to relax checks by extending grace periods on a number of goods, but this has prompted legal action from the bloc and EU chiefs have called on the Protocol to be implemented in full.
Speaking in London following the talks, Mr Sefcovic said the EU has shown “enormous patience” in the face of “numerous and fundamental gaps” in the implementation of the Protocol.
The EU chief said he would prefer to find “good solutions”, but warned the bloc is ready to take action against the UK if nothing changes.
He said “Of course as you would understand, the fact that I mentioned that we are at a crossroads, means that our patience really is wearing very, very thin, and therefore we have to assess all options we have at our disposal.
“I was talking about the legal action, I was talking about arbitration, and of course I’m talking about the cross-retaliation.
“We do not want this to happen, therefore I came here, therefore we had a very intense debate this morning, and also yesterday evening with Lord Frost because I believe that there are possible solutions.”
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Lord Frost said: “The problem we’ve got is the Protocol is being implemented in a way which is causing disruption in Northern Ireland, and we had some pretty frank and honest discussions about that situation today.
“There weren’t any breakthroughs, there aren’t any breakdowns either, and we’re going to carry on talking.”
He added: “What the EU is insisting on is we should operate the Protocol in an extremely purist way.
“The reality is that it’s a very balanced document that’s designed to support the peace process and deal with the very sensitive politics in Northern Ireland.
“If we can find pragmatic solutions that work with that then we will be very happy to work with them.”
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