Britain will do “whatever it takes” to protect its territorial integrity in a trade dispute with the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday, threatening to take emergency action if no solution is found. was found.
Johnson’s threat appeared to break a temporary truce in a war of words over part of the Brexit deal that covers border issues with Northern Ireland, at the center of tensions since Britain completed its exit from the EU at the end of last year.
Although US President Joe Biden encouraged them to find a compromise, Johnson took advantage of a G7 summit to indicate that there was no easing of his stance on what is known as the Northern Ireland which covers border issues with the British province.
“I think we can fix the problem butâ¦ it is up to our friends and partners in the EU to understand that we will do whatever it takes,” Johnson told Sky News.
“I think that if the protocol continues to be applied in this way, then we will obviously not hesitate to invoke article 16”, he added, referring to a safeguard clause which allows each party to take action if they believe the agreement leads to societal or environmental difficulties.
“I’ve spoken to some of our friends here today who seem to misunderstand that UK is one country, one territory. I just need to put that in their heads.”
His comments came after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior EU officials Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel at a Group of Seven summit in southwestern Ukraine. England.
The EU has again told the UK government it must implement the Brexit deal in full and introduce controls on some goods transferred from Britain to Northern Ireland. Britain reiterated its call for urgent and innovative solutions to ease friction.
NO COOLING OF POSITIONS
The province has an open border with EU member Ireland, so the Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed as a way to preserve the bloc’s single market after Britain left.
The protocol essentially kept the province in the EU customs union and adhered to numerous single market rules, creating a regulatory border in the Irish Sea between the British province and the rest of the UK.
Since Britain left the bloc orbit, Johnson has unilaterally delayed the implementation of certain provisions of the protocol, including controls on chilled meats such as sausages moving from the mainland to Northern Ireland , saying it was disrupting some supplies in the province.
“Both sides must implement what we have agreed on,” said von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, after meeting Johnson alongside Michel, President of the European Council.
“There is complete EU unity on this,” she said, adding that the deal had been agreed, signed and ratified by both Johnson’s government and the bloc.
Germany’s Merkel said the two sides could find pragmatic solutions on technical issues, while the EU protects its single market.
Earlier this week, talks between the two groups of negotiators ended with an exchange of threats over the so-called “sausage wars”. An EU official told the G7 there was a need to moderate the rhetoric.
The head of the World Trade Organization said she hoped tensions did not escalate into a trade war.
The United States has also expressed serious concern that the dispute could undermine the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
The deal largely ended the “Troubles” – three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist activists and pro-British Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.
Although Brexit is not on the formal agenda of the G7 summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, it has more than once threatened to obscure the meeting.
Frenchman Macron offered to restore relations with Britain as long as Johnson stuck to the Brexit deal – a characterization of the meeting that was rejected by the British team.
Brexit has also strained the situation in Northern Ireland, where the pro-British âunionistâ community now claims to be separated from the rest of the UK and where the Brexit agreement violates the 1998 peace agreement. open border between the province and Ireland was a key principle of the Good Friday agreement.
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