Brexit: Expert warns of ‘big confrontation’ over Northern Ireland
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Concerns are growing over a “big confrontation” between Britain and European Union leaders at the G7 summit which could lead relations into a “very serious situation”. Speaking to LBC, Brexit expert and Die Weld (German newspaper) reporter Stefanie Bolzen said that severe disagreements over post-Brexit trade could trigger “relatialiation” actions between Britain and the EU. Tensions have reached boiling point in recent days following an ongoing row over the export of chilled meats to Northern Ireland as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The row has been heightened as time runs out on a grace period agreed to end on 30th June at which point onerous checks on chilled meats travelling into Northern Ireland will be prohibited.
Ms Bolzen told LBC: “I am pretty sure Angela Merkel would never say we are talking about a trade war.
“I don’t know about the French president but she would never use this kind of language and she would not go down this road.
“But it is in the Trade and Corporation Agreement… this is actually why Brussels was keen for the European Parliament to ratify it.
“Now they have the toolbox to retaliate if the Brits and vice versa, the European Union, don’t stick to the TCA, they can also retaliate.”
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She warned: “It is a very serious situation because time is running out.”
Ms Bolzen went on to explain: “I attended the briefing yesterday [with] the spokesman of the British Prime Minister.
“It sounded pretty confrontational, that they will not move.
“We have two weeks left and then there might be a post-brexit big confrontation about Northern Ireland.”
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Her comments come as French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Mekel, Italy’s Mario Draghi and the EU’s institutional leaders, including EU Council President Charles Michel, met for talks on Friday afternoon in a bid to present a united front ahead of their individual talks with Mr Johnson about Brexit trade and Northern Ireland.
It is understood EU leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall told the Prime Minister they were ready to start a trade war with the UK over the fallout from Brexit – however No10 officials have downplayed the warnings.
A Downing Street spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “The Prime Minister expressed confidence in the UK’s position in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“He made clear his desire for pragmatism and compromise on all sides but underlined that protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions was paramount.”
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Downing Street has stressed the UK would be prepared to delay the full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent the so called ‘sausage war’, a ban on chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.
The ban would come in on the 1st July as the agreed grace period for goods crossing over the Irish Sea comes to an end on 30th June – after this date, chilled meats would be subject to onerous checks.
As part of the UK and EU’s Brexit trade deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol means European checks and trade rules apply to goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain.
Northern Ireland also remains part of the EU’s single market under the Protocol, which avoided the creation of a land border in Ireland.
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