Brexit: EU is playing ‘hardball’ with Northern Ireland says Hoey
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Despite leaving the EU, Tory MP for Clwyd West and deputy chairman of the European Research Group David Jones, claimed the EU still does not appreciate the UK’s newfound sovereignty. With relations between the two souring of late, Mr Jones urged the Prime Minister to himself consider invoking Article 16 action against the EU after its threat to bloc vaccine supplies last month. Although EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, claimed no alterations can be made to the Northern Ireland protocol, Mr Jones warned it must be revisited in order to stop the EU penalising the UK.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Jones he said: “I think we should give serious consideration to triggering Article 16.
“We can’t allow the people of Northern Ireland to continue to be penalised by the way that they are at the moment.”
The Northern Ireland protocol was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement and was created to maintain trade.
Since January 1, there have been significant problems caused by the protocol with some Tory party members and the DUP calling for it to be scrapped.
In response to these calls, Mr Sefcovic claimed the EU remains keen to make the protocol work and that the UK has in fact, not implemented it properly.
Commenting on the matter, Mr Jones added: “I think that there’s something deeply psychological going on in the European Union, that the UK has left as a matter of law.
“But they seem to be regarding it as a hostile act in some way, as opposed to simply exercising the rights under the Treaty on European Union, which is what we did.
“I mean there’s a right to leave the European Union if you want to do so under Article 50.
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“We decided as a party to trigger Article 50 which was perfectly legal and they’re trying to punish us for it.”
Mr Sefcovic arrived in London this week to discuss the issues surrounding the protocol in Northern Ireland.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Gove had warned his EU counterpart that widespread changes must be made to the protocol in order to resolve the issues surrounding trade.
Following the meeting between the pair, they both agreed to maintain their commitment to upholding the peace process.
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They also agreed to intensify the work of the committee on the protocol.
The UK and EU have also agreed to continue to work with business groups and civic society in Northern Ireland.
Despite his comments, the DUP’s leader Arlene Foster claimed the EU was burying its head in the sand over its refusal to adapt the protocol.
Not only did she warn changes must be made to the protocol but Ms Foster also warned Northern Ireland should not be used as a political football.
She said: “I am just sorry that the EU have decided the answer to the difficulties is more protocol and more rigorous implementation.
“I think that is not going to work.”
There is also serious concern that the grace period for goods flowing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain may not be extended.
If the grace period is not extended, Ms Foster warned the country will be close to a cliff edge.
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