Northern Ireland: EU 'hasn't shown good faith' says Poots
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The Greek MP and economist, appearing on Thursday’s episode of BBC Question Time, was asked by Fiona Bruce who is to blame for difficulties renegotiating the Protocol. On June 30, a ‘grace period’ for customs checks on chilled meats expires, which is prompting anger among Northern Irish and British citizens.
Ms Bruce asked the politician whether “the EU is being difficult” or whether the UK “signed up to something it didn’t really understand”.
Mr Varoufakis said: “Both London and Brussels are behaving like spoiled brats.
“Boris Johnson has to confess that the price of ending free movement of people is that he terminated the free movement of sausages between Britain and Northern Ireland.
“He has to acknowledge the impossible triangle, as I call it: You cannot simultaneously have a regulatory divergence, no border within Ireland and no border down the Irish Sea.
“You can have two of the three, but you cannot have all three Boris.”
Turning to the EU, Mr Varoufakis said the bloc had been “misbehaving” over how the Protocol has been implemented.
He added: “They seem to misunderstand the fact that, on the one hand yes they do have the legal right to inspect every Great British banger that travels across the Irish Sea, but to do this is an abuse of their legal right.
“Maybe this is the sausage war, or crisis, we had to have so that common sense prevails.
“Both sides have to accept that they must work together, so we might as well do this harmoniously.”
Lord David Frost, Brexit minister, and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič held talks on Wednesday over the Protocol, but “no breakthroughs” took place.
In a statement after the meeting, Lord Frost said: “The UK will continue to work actively to find solutions.
“If solutions cannot be found, the Government will of course continue to consider all options available for safeguarding peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland.”
Lord Frost told reporters: “The problem we’ve got is the protocol is being implemented in a way which is causing disruption in Northern Ireland and we had some pretty frank and honest discussions about that situation today.”
Mr Šefčovič shared frustrations with the UK after the meeting with Lord Frost.
He said: “If the UK were to take further unilateral action in the coming weeks, we will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely.”
When asked what actions the EU could take, the Vice President said it could include legal action, arbitration or other retaliatory measures, including targeted tariffs.
But he also added: “We don’t want this to happen … It’s not too late. Let’s correct the path.”
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