The EU has signalled it could trigger a trade war and pursue a legal challenge against the UK if the Government proceeds with its plans to unilaterally override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Boris Johnson has been speaking about the government’s plan to override parts of the protocol to reporters during a visit to see the new Elizabeth line at Paddington Station.
Asked about the possibility of a trade war with the EU, the prime minister said: “I don’t think that is likely … We need to address the problems with the protocol. What that actually involves is getting rid of some relatively minor barriers to trade.”
He added: “And I think there are good, common sense, pragmatic solutions. We need to work with our EU friends to achieve that.”
The PM said the “higher duty” of the UK government was to the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, adding: “Of necessity, we can make some changes, I think, to the protocol …
“It makes it very clear on the face of the text that you should ensure east-west trade, and the integrity of the UK internal market.”
He added: “Let’s fix it. We don’t want to nix it – we want to fix it. And we’ll work with our EU partners to do it.”
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, on Tuesday confirmed the Government will publish a law in the coming weeks which will allow ministers to make changes to post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland without seeking the permission of the EU.
Ms Truss said the UK still remains “open to a negotiated solution” with Brussels and is willing to hold further talks “but the urgency of the situation means we can't afford to delay any longer”.
But Maros Sefcovic, the Vice President of the European Commission, said that if the UK goes ahead with unilateral action then the EU “will need to respond with all measures at its disposal”.
The remark will be seen as a threat that Brussels could hit the UK with retaliatory trade tariffs or take the Government to court.
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