Politics

No chance! Boris to snub EU’s ‘reset’ offer until UK is treated as ‘sovereign equal’

Brexit: Lia Nici slams EU export process at borders

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Whitehall officials fear the tensions have arisen out of Brussels’ refusal to recognise the UK as a “sovereign equal”. The feuds include the Northern Ireland border plan and a recent row over the export of shellfish to the bloc. It was today reported that EU figures were pondering a moment to attempt to resolve their differences with Britain.

This could include a “handshake” moment between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior Brussels officials, such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her Council counterpart Charles Michel.

It was described as a “set piece” event to officially unveil the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which was hastily completed on Christmas Eve without any fanfare.

But UK sources have dismissed the notion of the Prime Minister engaging in such an event until EU chiefs are willing to recognise Britain as an independent nation.

A Government spokesman said: “As the Prime Minister said last year, the deal we struck with the EU is the beginning of our new partnership in Europe, with new stability and certainty around our future relationship.

“It will build on our shared history of friendship and cooperation, but as sovereign equals, with greater democratic autonomy and a clear, independent voice to speak and act on our priorities.

 “The Prime Minister has recently appointed Lord Frost to lead this work.

 “We expect the EU to complete the ratification process in the new timeframe to give certainty to business and individuals on both sides, and we continue to work closely with them to resolve the outstanding problems surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

It is expected that EU officials will open “tentative talks” with their UK counterparts on possibility of holding the event in the coming weeks.

But the British are more concerned that the EU still doesn’t fully understand the damage it has done to the relation by attempting to impose a hard border on Ireland.

Commission chief Mrs von der Leyen made a screeching U-turn to the move after it emerged as part of an export ban for coronavirus vaccines in January.

It has since raised questions over whether eurocrats understand the Northern Ireland peace process and whether their bureaucratic natures are risking violent flare-ups.

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Customs officials have already withdrawn from ports in Larne and Belfast because of threats to their safety.

The tensions have arisen because of Unionist anger over the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent a hard border.

Extra trade checks between the region and mainland Britain have sparked serious concerns.

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Brexit: UK ready to play ‘hardball’ over fisheries says Lia Nici

Some in Brussels are uncomfortable that Lord Frost’s appointment as a Cabinet minister tasked with overseeing Brexit and EU relations could trigger further concentrations.

An EU diplomat said: “The EU and UK relationship is in dire need of more consensus, unfortunately Lord Frost is, so far, better known for confrontation.

“Putting the relationship on ice is not an option. Britain and the continent are too close, too interlinked and there’s too much going on affecting both sides of the English Channel.”

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