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June 13, 2021

Johnson calls for compromise with EU in NI Brexit row

P
Pa
June 13, 2021

LONDON: Boris Johnson has appealed for “compromise on all sides” in the increasingly bitter dispute with Brussels over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister held a series of meeting with the key players on the EU side as the wrangling over the Northern Ireland Protocol threatened to overshadow his hosting of the G7 summit. Despite threats earlier in the week from Brussels of a possible trade war, Downing Street insisted the talks in Cornwall with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had been “constructive”.

However the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said there was now an urgent need to find “radical changes and pragmatic solutions” to enable the protocol to function effectively. “In all cases they agreed that they needed to continue discussions on this and to continuing talking to try to find a way through,” the spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister’s desire currently is to work within the existing protocol to find radical changes and pragmatic solutions. That is our immediate focus.

“Currently as implemented, the protocol is having a damaging impact on the people of Northern Ireland. We need to find urgent and innovative solutions.”

Downing Street has indicated the UK would be prepared to unilaterally delay the full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent a ban on chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

Restrictions on British-produced chilled meats entering Northern Ireland are due to come into force at the end of the month. Delaying the checks without Brussels’ agreement risks triggering a “sausage war” trade dispute, with the EU threatening to respond to any breach of the deal signed by the Prime Minister.

A No 10 spokesman said that in his talks with the EU leaders, Johnson had stressed his desire for “pragmatism and compromise on all sides” while stressing the need to protect the Northern Ireland peace process.

“The Prime Minister underlined the UK’s position on the Northern Ireland Protocol and the need to maintain both the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UK,” the spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister made it clear that the UK is committed to finding practical solutions within the framework of the protocol which protect the aims of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and minimise the impact on the day-to-day lives of people in Northern Ireland.”