Take the nuclear option! Boris urged to tear up Brexit deal as EU tensions rise

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

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Boris Johnson was poised to overhaul the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland last week but was convinced otherwise by his Brexit minister Lord Frost, according to The Telegraph. But the warning to deploy the so-called “nuclear option” was reportedly still issued to Ireland and UK officials are understood to have made clear it is the Prime Minister – and not Lord Frost – who is in fact most in favour of triggering Article 16.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is also understood to have relayed similar messages to Ireland’s Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney during recent talks over post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The enforcement of Article 16 could spark another rift with Brussels as it is the mechanism by which either side is able to suspend parts of the Protocol if they believe it is causing huge economic or societal damage to the region.

But support for its enforcement is picking up pace, with the DUP and even several of Mr Johnson’s own Tory MPs already claiming the conditions for this move have already been met.

Earlier this week, Lord Frost warned the UK believes the conditions for triggering Article 16 had now been met and the Protocol in its current form is no longer a viable solution, but instead called for the mechanism to be rewritten.

However, Mr Johnson has been backed by an overwhelming majority in a new Express.co.uk poll to go ahead and trigger Article 16.

The poll, which ran from 8pm on Saturday July 24 until 4pm on Sunday July 25, asked: “Should Boris Johnson deploy ‘nuclear option’ and spark rift with EU?”

A huge 95 percent (10,385 readers) backed the Prime Minister to trigger Article 16 and send a statement of intent to the EU.

The remaining five percent (465 readers) disagreed, while less than one percent (73 readers) were undecided.

Reacting to our initial story, one furious Express.co.uk reader wrote: “Boris is the first PM in 50 years to be in charge of an independent United Kingdom.

“He must do what no PM has done in 50 years – put the UK interests before the EU interests.

“Trigger Article 16 now Boris and prove to the British people that Britain comes first.”

A second reader said: “The EU has never negotiated in good faith, and nor have they acted in good faith.

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“It’s time to take the nuclear option.”

Another furious reader commented: “I appreciate if we tear up the Protocol we will lose some EU food products. This should encourage the EU food industry to pick up the pieces and then sell abroad any surpluses.

“We can not go on any longer as it stands. We are a proud nation, let’s just do it.”

Last week German MEP David McAllister, who is regarded as a key Brexit voice for Brussels in the European Parliament, insisted the Protocol – set up to avoid a hard border – will not be renegotiated.

He said: “Instead of putting the Protocol into question, it is about finding solutions for the outstanding issues.

“The implementation of the Protocol relies on joint action. It should not be undermined by unilateral measures.

“Permanent flexibilities are not acceptable. The Protocol was painstakingly negotiated under high political pressure, ensuring to minimise disruption and to help local communities and businesses.

“It cannot be renegotiated – it is part of the solution of a problem that is Brexit.”

In a statement to the House of Lords on Wednesday, Lord Frost said: “It is plainly clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16.

“Nevertheless, we have concluded that this is not the right moment to do so.”

But he warned: “Put simply, we cannot go on as we are. As we’ve sought to operate the Protocol it is clear that these burdens have been the source of considerable and ongoing disruption to lives and livelihoods.

“We’ve seen reductions in supermarket product lines, we’ve seen more than 200 suppliers decide they would no longer sell to Northern Ireland.

“And we’ve seen difficulties, not just on the famous chilled meats, but also on medicines, on pets, or movements of live animals on seeds and plants.

“What is worse, these burdens will get worse, not improve over time as grace periods expire leaving businesses facing evermore unsustainable burdens.”

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