Brexit: UK stance 'won't ease EU standoff' says expert
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The European Union’s former chief negotiator called on Boris Johnson to respect the terms of his Brexit withdrawal deal with the bloc. The Frenchman was speaking after Brussels bosses and the Prime Minister exchanged insults over the issue at the G7 summit in Cornwall. Mr Barnier said: “The United Kingdom needs to pay attention to its reputation.”
“I want Mr Johnson to respect his signature,” he added.
Mr Johnson has sparked fury across the EU by insisting that the post-Brexit border fix should not damage the integrity of the United Kingdom.
Vowing to defend Northern Ireland place within the Union, the Prime Minister insisted he would fight back against EU-ordered trade checks in the region.
He also suggested that the EU was attempting to stoke up divisions over Brexit.
Arriving at the Nato summit in Brussels, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I think most people around the table understand the vital importance of a country looking after its territorial integrity.
“That’s one of the things that by the way that Nato is out there to do.”
Brussels has threatened to trigger a sausage trade war if Downing Street refuses to obey the bloc’s blockade on the export of chilled meats to Northern Ireland.
The row saw a war of words break out between London and Paris, with Government sources saying that French President Emmanuel Macron had misunderstood that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.
Discussing the EU’s hardline interpretation of the Brexit deal in a bilateral meeting with Mr Macron, Mr Johnson asked: “How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?”
According to a British Government source, Mr Macron dismissed it as “not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse are part of the same country”.
Dominic Raab accused the French leader of “offensive” behaviour over the apparent remarks.
The Foreign Secretary said: “We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real-world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.”
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But Mr Macron hit back, claiming Mr Johnson was “well aware” when he signed the Northern Ireland Protocol that it would result in “controls” of goods crossing from mainland Britain.
The French President added: “We know very well what British sovereignty is. I don’t think there is any country in Europe that has had others spend as much time in respect of its sovereignty.”
He also accused Downing Street of attempting to create “polemics” when there were more important issues on hand at the G7 summit.
Mr Macron said: “Let’s not lose time in disagreements that are often created in corridors.
“France has never allowed itself to question British sovereignty. Brexit is the child of this British sovereignty.”
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Clement Beaune, France’s hardline Europe minister, today joined the attack on Downing Street.
“Mr Johnson thinks that you can sign deals with the Europeans and not respect them and that Europe will not react. It is a test for Europe,” he told Europe 1 radio.
The Frenchman added: “I am telling the British people, Brexit commitments must be respected… If it is not the case, retaliatory measures could be taken.
“In Northern Ireland there are sausage import problems… Why? Because when you leave the European Union, you have necessarily some trade barriers.
“I cannot tell the French or the Europeans that Britain can export via Ireland some products such as meat without any control… That is what it is all about. Brexit has consequences.”
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