Liz Truss grilled over ‘timescale’ of Protocol
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Whitehall is planning on drafting a law which would rip up the Protocol as negotiations with Brussels continue to stall. Liz Truss has insisted the Government’s “preference” would be to establish a “negotiated solution” with the bloc, though reports in recent weeks suggest its own negotiators are unwilling to budge from their current position.
Instead, the EU has signalled it will trigger an all-out trade war and pursue legal action against the UK if the Protocol is torn apart.
Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who is leading negotiations for the EU, stressed that “[we] will need to respond with all measures at [our] disposal”.
Former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib said such threats amount to “bullying”.
He added, however, that this is not surprising and ought to have been expected.
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “There is nothing new in that.
“They did the same when we suggested we might invoke Article 16 to suspend it.”
Along with its other threats, one official told Bloomberg the EU could halt talks over the status of Gibraltar if the Protocol is scrapped, despite UK leaders insisting these are completely separate.
It has also been suggested that the EU could throw away its trade agreement with the UK.
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The Brexit Watch Chairman said the EU’s approach in talks over the Protocol, and its considerations over the position of Northern Ireland, simply reflects how the bloc has acted since Britons voted for their country to leave back in 2016.
He stressed: “The EU is bound to threaten and bully us over Northern Ireland. It would be naïve in the extreme to expect anything else.
“They have weaponised the province against the UK ever since we voted to leave. They do not care about Northern Ireland.
“For them it is just a tool either to bring us to heel or break us.”
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The businessman’s primary concern was, however, not the “bullying” nature if the EU but the stand-down response of the UK Government.
Mr Habib expressed his dismay – his fury, in fact – over the failure of ministers to translate words into action, to do more than offer “empty rhetorical sabre rattling”.
He highlighted that just as Brussels has threatened to trigger trade wars in the past, so too have ministers threatened to trigger Article 16 or to take some other form of serious action over the Protocol, without actually doing so.
After accusing the EU of “weaponising” Northern Ireland, Mr Habib admonished for appearing to prefer the prospect of “giving up Northern Ireland than standing up to the EU”.
The US has also now waded into the post-Brexit row, warning it will not support a free trade deal with the UK if Ms Truss goes ahead with “deeply concerning” plans to “unilaterally discard” the Protocol.
As far as Mr Habib is concerned, neither the US nor the EU should be concerned.
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