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The EU will still have “reach” over state aid decisions in the UK due to provisions in the Northern Ireland protocol, the Financial Times’ public policy editor Peter Foster said. The warning comes as the Prime Minister is attempting to push through legislation to override parts of the Brexit deal he reached with Brussels last October.
Mr Foster tweeted that the state aid section in the Northern Ireland protocol poses a “huge problem because of its ‘reach back’ into the UK state aid decisions”.
He added: “That means that even after Brexit, with a Canada-style FTA in your pocked, the EU would still have ‘reach’ over state aid decisions on GB matters because of their indirect impact over Northern Ireland.”
Mr Foster’s comments were part of a thread on Twitter in response to an article by Mr Johnson in a bid to drum up support for his UK Internal Market Bill.
A number of Conservative MPs are against the controversial legislation, which could break international law by flouting the Withdrawal Agreement.
Writing in the Telegraph, the Prime Minister warned Brussels could “carve up” the UK and and “seriously endanger peace and stability” in Northern Ireland if Tory rebels vote down the Bill.
Mr Johnson also insisted the chances of a Canada-style deal would be slashed if MPs do not approve the legislation.
The Prime Minister said the EU would use an “extreme interpretation” of the Northern Ireland protocol to impose “a full-scale trade border down the Irish Sea” that could stop the transport of food from Britain to Northern Ireland.
He added: “Let’s remove this danger to the very fabric of the United Kingdom.
“Let’s make the EU take their threats off the table.
“And let’s get this Bill through, back up our negotiators, and protect our country.”
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove this morning echoed Mr Johnson’s warning that the EU could break up the UK if MPs do not approve the legislation.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We’re doing our part – generously – to help protect the EU’s own single market but we’re clear that what we can’t have even as we’re doing all that is the EU disrupting and putting at threat the integrity of the United Kingdom.
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“These steps are a safety net, they’re a long-stop in the event, which I don’t believe will come about but we do need to be ready for, that the EU follow through on what some have said they might do which is in effect to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Gove added that he believes the Government has the support of Tory MPs to pass the Brexit Bill.
He said: “I think we have got the support of our own MPs and MPs in other parties as well. But you’re absolutely right we are reaching a crunch moment.”
He also insisted the Government is acting “within the rule of law” despite Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitting the legislation would breach international law.
He told Sky News: “The legal position was made clear by the Attorney General: We are operating within the rule of law.
“It is the case, however, that we do need to take insurance policies.”
Mr Johnson on Friday held a conference call with around 250 MPs to try and win backing for the Bill.
Both Ireland and the EU have warned the Prime Minister’s plans pose a serious risk to the peace process rather than protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
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