Fix it or abandon it, Johnson of UK warns EU over deal with N. Ireland
BELFAST, Oct.1 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that Northern Ireland’s controversial post-Brexit trade deals could work in principle if they were “fixed”, but warned the EU that ‘they would be “abandoned” otherwise.
The Northern Ireland protocol was part of the Brexit divorce settlement that Johnson negotiated with the European Union. But London said it had to be rewritten within a year of its entry into force due to hurdles businesses face importing goods from Britain.
“We hope we can solve this problem. This is not a problem that we wanted, I have to stress. I cannot stress more,” Johnson told the BBC in Northern Ireland.
“The protocol could in principle work … It has enough leeway in the language to be applied sensibly without creating too many controls in the Irish Sea.”
But he warned it would come down to “fix it or give it up.”
“What I’m telling you is that I want to see real negotiation. I want to see the EU come to the table with serious proposals to fix it.”
Brussels is expected to respond in full shortly to a “command document” presented by London in July calling for fundamental changes to the protocol. The European Commission has rejected a full renegotiation. Read more
The July proposals also once again raised the prospect of triggering “Article 16” of the deal, which allows each party to unilaterally seek to dispense with some of the conditions if they prove to be unexpectedly damaging. .
Neither party can cancel the protocol through these safeguards.
When asked if he would trigger Article 16 as early as next week, Johnson said it depended on what the EU comes up with and “whether they are ready to seriously negotiate on removing the obstacles we have. currently”.
Reporting by Amanda Ferguson in Belfast, written by Padraic Halpin and James Davey
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