Boris Johnson says Northern Ireland Protocol threats will lead to EU retaliation


BORIS Johnson’s threats to rewrite part of the Brexit deal he signed would lead to retaliation from Brussels, the EU ambassador to the UK has said.

Joao Vale de Almeida said there was no possibility of reopening negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol and warned that ‘action calls for reaction’ if the UK decides to tear up parts of it the agreement.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has outlined plans for legislation to amend the protocol to address concerns about the deal’s implementation.

The Prime Minister insisted on his plans for the protocol, “we don’t want to scrap it, we want to fix it”.

READ MORE: ‘No surrender’, says Unionist MP in Westminster amid Northern Ireland Protocol row

But the ambassador said: “It’s not very reassuring if you get into a negotiation where you’re presented with two options – either renegotiation or unilateral action to override the treaty.

“It’s not the best way to fix, it’s more of a maybe nix way.

“So if we want to fix it, which we want and I understand that’s also what the government wants, we have to create a better atmosphere.”

There was “untapped potential” in the proposals put forward by European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in talks with the UK government, he said, warning of retaliation if the UK Uni chose instead to act unilaterally.

“There is still potential in the proposals we have made, we would like to focus on that instead of going unilaterally,” he said.

“The unilateral calls for the unilateral. Action calls for reaction.

“And is that what we want, an escalation around Northern Ireland right now? I do not think so.”

The ambassador told reporters in Westminster there was little chance EU member states would give Sefcovic a mandate to rewrite the protocol during his talks with Truss.

“We were told that we should get a new mandate but I can tell you very clearly what the Member States are telling us is very simple: you don’t need a mandate and even if you ask for one, you don’t won’t get it. ”

READ MORE: UK to introduce bill to scrap parts of Northern Ireland protocol in ‘weeks’, says Liz Truss

He said there was a lack of trust between the two sides and there were few signs of a “happy ending” in the protocol saga.

“I am concerned about the low level of trust that exists today between the EU and the UK, between our leaders, between all of us who are involved in this relationship,” he said.

He compared the protocol rows to a long-running drama: “I was hoping to see in this season of this saga… more creativity and hopefully a happy ending. I don’t see it at the moment and this is one area where I think things haven’t changed enough.

Cooperation on issues such as the war in Ukraine and climate change showed how the two sides could work together.

But the ambassador said: ‘If I look at the wider picture of our relationship, our issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol have a disproportionately negative impact on the quality of our overall relationship and we need to get over this.’

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