EU leaders told they are violating Good Friday agreement by treating NI as ‘member state’

EU trying to ‘undo’ gains made in Brexit says Sammy Wilson

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Officials have warned a trade war between Britain and the EU is “inevitable” if the UK refuses to back down on its new demands for post-Brexit rules on Northern Ireland. On Wednesday, Brexit minister David Frost issued a new “command paper” that would radically rework the Northern Ireland protocol – a deal he himself negotiated and which only came into force in January – effectively removing most of a trade border created in the Irish Sea. But the proposal was swiftly rejected by the EU, as leaders believe revisiting the Protocol would threaten the Good Friday Agreement.

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, said in an official statement: “We will not agree to a renegotiation of the protocol.”

Trade officials and business leaders told The Independent that time is running out to reach agreement ahead of the introduction of critical deadlines for extra processes which the UK agreed under the protocol.

They fear the step from the UK Government could push London and Brussels into a tit-for-tat trade fight.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Thursday the EU had been inflexible over renegotiating the Northern Ireland part of the Brexit divorce accord and cautioned Brussels that it was not a deal that would last forever.

He told Sky News: “A deal is a deal but it wasn’t something that was going to last forever.

“It was something that was flexible and we want to make it work more smoothly.”

“Article 16 … it is something that we could do, to suspend it, we’ve chosen not to do that, that’s not our opening position and we want to be able to negotiate and have a conversation with the EU about how best to go forward.”

As tensions are set to rise, an interview with Shanker Singham, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trade adviser, has resurfaced.

Earlier this year, Mr Singham argued Europeans and the Irish are very good at saying Britain is violating the Good Friday Agreement.

However, he claimed, it is all “nonsense” and “not actually true”.

He explained: “The European vision on how to implement the Good Friday Agreement actually violates the Good Friday Agreement.

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“They treat Northern Ireland as a European member state, without the consent of the Northern Irish people.

“It is really incumbent on the British Government, who, frankly, needs to do a better job at explaining what I just said.

“The only way to properly implement it is to do it in such a way that you deliver three things: you deliver unfettered access, Northern Ireland to Great Britain, you deliver as free a flow as possible, Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and you deliver no border on the island of Ireland.”

Mr Singham added that if Britain achieves this, the primary objection of the Biden administration will immediately disappear and a trade deal between Washington and London could be struck.

He said: “Any new US President has to focus on domestic policy for the first few months.

“He cannot seem to be leading with foreign policy and I expect Biden to be no different.

“He will be trying to offset the balance of the Trump administration, the anti-Europe approach.

“But at the end of the day, what does it mean for trade policy?”

Mr Singham noted: “At the end of the day, a deal with the UK is the only deal a Democrat President like Biden can actually do, because there is no race to the bottom on labour and environment, there is no offshoring of US jobs.”

The trade expert talked to several cross-party politicians in Congress, who all seemed excited about the prospect of a US-UK trade deal.

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He added: “It does seem to be coming from a lot of sources.

“I have had conversations with Richard Neal, who is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

“Ron Wyden, who will be the Chairman of the Senate Finance committee.

“They all want a deal with the UK. If anything, that really has not changed.”

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