Brexit: UK 'wanted to be in charge' says Widdecombe
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EU financial services commissioner, Mairead McGuinness, has cranked up the pressure on the Prime Minister and warned the bloc would “react firmly” if the UK moves further away from the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol. Speaking at an Irish parliamentary meeting, Ms McGuinness stressed if one side is treaty unfairly or without respect then there may be a “need to respond”.
The dispute centres on checks being placed on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson has said the UK could unilaterally delay the latest checks on chilled meats entering Northern Ireland, due to come into force at the end of the month, if there was not a breakthrough.
EU food safety rules do not allow chilled meat products to enter its market from nations outside the bloc or so-called third countries.
Ms McGuinness said: “There must be a joint endeavour between both sides, but unfortunately from our side, there are fundamentally gaps in the UK implementation of the agreement.
“The European Union has the tools to deal with these challenges, like the infringement procedure launched in March, due to the UK breaching its obligations under the protocol.
“And if the UK were to take further unilateral action over the coming weeks, the EU would react firmly to ensure that the UK abides by its obligations under international law.
“There comes a point in a relationship if you’re not being fairly treated or treated with respect, there is a need to respond.”
Ms McGuinness maintained the Protocol remains the “best and only possible solution” to ensure peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, while protecting the integrity of the EU’s single market.
She added: “The protocol reflects the political choices of the United Kingdom.
“The protocol was a UK choice.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol ties Belfast to the EU regulatory framework and has effectively placed a border down the Irish Sea – prompting anger from Unionists.
The Prime Minister held crisis talks with EU leaders at the G7 summit last weekend.
Mr Johnson said he thought the EU understood “it is the prime duty of the UK government to uphold the territorial integrity of the UK” and he would do “whatever it takes to ensure that”.
He added: “I think that to be fair there is quite a lot of misunderstanding around the EU about the situation in Northern Ireland, the balance of the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process.
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“I was just in a gentle way getting across what that means and I think that we will have some pragmatic solutions.”
The Prime Minister also stressed he would be prepared to trigger emergency legislation if things did not change.
Mr Johnson said: “I think if the protocol continues to be applied in this way, then we will obviously not hesitate to invoke Article 16, as I have said before.”
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