Brexit: EU aiming to 'cause pain' through reprisals says expert
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Chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost told the House of Lords on Wednesday that suspending the Northern Ireland protocol, which is in place to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, will be the “only option” if the now four weeks of UK-EU talks fail to resolve problems. But speaking to Sky News on Wednesday reporter Adam Parsons noted how a contact within the EU said “reprisal” plans are already being drawn up by the bloc in reaction.
Mr Parsons revealed how EU ambassadors met in Brussels on Wednesday to plot their own response to Lord Frost’s threats of triggering Article 16, a move he said had garnered “unanimous support” from EU politicians.
He warned: “The EU is drawing up its own reprisals, those would depend on exactly what UK would do…
“But a few diplomats have said to me that frankly, these reprisals would have to cause pain to the United Kingdom, they wouldn’t simply be a token gesture.”
The Sky reporter stressed: “The tougher the UK’s position would be, the tougher the European Union.”
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Mr Parsons went on to note how the EU is “absolutely fed up” with talks of the UK amending the Brexit deal amid the crisis.
This is due to the bloc viewing the Northern Ireland Protocol as “absolutely central” to the Brexit deal, despite the trade chaos and sectarian tensions it has stoked.
Mr Parsons added how figures within the EU have also told him how they “resent any suggestion” that it is them that could jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland.
Instead, he suggested how the EU think it is in fact the UK jeopardising peace in Northern Ireland.
Brexit: Lord Frost hits out at EU over Northern Ireland Protocol
He added how the second reason is the EU “do not want to create a precedent” where painstakingly negotiated trade deals are subjected to change.
Mr Parsons said: “They think that all the problems around the Northern Ireland protocol were predictable and that is the absolute reverse of the position put forward by Lord Frost and other British diplomats.”
The comments come as Lord Frost told the Lords on Wednesday that the negotiations process to bring an end to the stalemate in Northern Ireland “has not reached its end.”
He explained how despite four weeks of talks, possible areas to solve the crisis have “not yet [been] seriously examined” including numerous approaches that have been suggested by the UK.
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The chief Brexit negotiator told the Lords how “there is more to do” and was clear that the UK will not give up on the talks “until it is abundantly clear that nothing more can be done”.
While in a game-changing moment, Lord Frost slammed: “If, however, we do in due course reach that point, the Article 16 safeguards will be our only option.
“We have been abundantly clear about this since July when we made clear that the tests for using Article 16 were already passed.”
He stressed: “Nothing that has happened since has changed that.”
Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol allows either the UK or the EU to take unilateral action if they believe the arrangement is causing serious problems.
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