Now it’s personal! Boris warned of EU plot to ’cause him political pain’ in protocol row

Brexit: Dominic Raab urges EU to be 'more pragmatic'

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The bloc has said it is prepared to slap on tariffs and quotas on the UK if it does not rescind on its decision to backtrack on commitments it made to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol. This key part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement aims to prevent a return to a hard boundary between the Six Counties and the Republic of Ireland.

It lays out how a post-Brexit trade border in the Irish Sea should take effect, with customs checks being carried out on goods flowing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The UK Government has said it underestimated the disruption the protocol would have for businesses.

Ministers have therefore pushed back the implementation of parts of the agreement – a move which has infuriated EU chiefs across the Channel.

Following Brussels’ threats to take retaliatory action, Anand Menon, director of the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe, issued a warning to Mr Johnson.

Writing in the Guardian, he said: “We can be pretty certain that any action it takes against the UK would be calculated to cause political pain for the prime minister.”

He said past events have proved “the EU is very good at this sort of thing”.

Mr Menon pointed to the 2018 set of tariffs the bloc imposed on the US imports.

This was in response to former President Donald Trump’s decision to put duties on European aluminium and steel.

Tariffs of 25 percent were imposed on American whiskey and bourbon.

The move hit key Republican heartlands of Kentucky Tennessee particularly hard – a double hit for Mr Trump – where much of the liquor is made.

The ongoing row between the UK and the EU has led to fear of a so-called “sausage war”.

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EU food safety rules mean that only frozen meat can be imported into its single market.

The possibility of such a war surfaced after Brexit minister Lord Frost refused to rule out the possibility that the UK could unilaterally delay imposing checks on British-made chilled meats which are due to come into force at the end of the month.

Today Mr Johnson touched on the protocol dispute in interview with the BBC today.

He said: “You will understand that there are ways of enforcing the protocol, ways of making it work, that may be excessively burdensome.

“I just give you one statistic: 20 percent of the checks conducted across the whole of the perimeter of the EU are now done in Northern Ireland, three times as many as happen in Rotterdam.”

Earlier this week Environment Secretary George Eustice described the row as “bonkers”.

He said he had “no idea” why the EU imposed “idiosyncratic” rules on the movement chilled meat.

He added: “I suspect it links to some kind of perception that they can’t really trust any country other than an EU country to make sausages.”

The Prime Minister is expected to discuss the issue with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen when they hold a private meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall which kicks off today.

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