Courts or trade war Boris warned Brexit row with EU edging towards disaster for UK

Former Brexit Party MEP slams EU over Northern Ireland border

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A huge row has erupted between the UK and European Union over Britain’s refusal to fully implement the hotly disputed trade mechanism, with Boris Johnson and his Brexit minister insisting it simply isn’t working. Earlier this month, the European Commission appeared to climb down from its stance, with vice president Maros Sefcovic proposing a set of “far-reaching” measures aimed at resolving post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland. This included slashing 80 percent of regulatory checks and cutting customs processes on the movement of goods between Britain and the island of Ireland.

But the EU proposals have still fallen a long way short of what the UK is currently demanding, with Brexit minister Lord Frost seeking a complete overhaul of large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Under the mechanism, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) would act as the final arbitrator in any future trade dispute between the two sides.

Lord Frost wants this key provision removed and replaced with an independent arbitration process – but the EU is not caving to this demand – paving the way for several weeks of intense talks between the two sides.

Alistair Jones, associate politics professor at De Montfort University in Leicester, has warned the Prime Minister the explosive row with the EU is quickly heading towards two scenarios the UK will be keen to avoid.

Commenting on whether the UK could trigger Article 16, he told “The reality is that neither the UK or EU want a trade war, especially as the world is trying to build back in a new Covid world.

“Just on sheer size, as well as having the US in their corner, the EU probably holds the upper hand.

“There is too much to be lost by having a trade dispute with the EU starting at the same time as the UK tries to gain kudos from holding the COP26 summit.

“The question will be the extent to which the UK Government starts to implement the Protocol properly. Failure to do so will see the EU initiate court proceedings.”

The politics expert added: “This is gradually moving closer to either the courts or a trade war.

“The problem is it is a zero-sum game.

“The UK wants to remove the ECJ from play and the EU cannot have parts of the Single Market operating without such oversight.

“This was flagged up as a concern when debating the Northern Ireland situation at the time of the referendum.

“Such fears were dismissed as fearmongering; but they have come to pass.”

The UK has threatened to tear up the Protocol by triggering Article 16, which would see a large amount or even the whole of the Protocol agreement completely torn up.

Wyn Grant, a British political scientist and politics professor at the University of Warwick, believes the UK will wait until the current round of intensive talks with the EU to decide whether it will trigger Article 16.

But he has warned the EU will have no hesitation in following through with threats of retaliation, and could slap Brexit Britain with a raft of hefty trade sanctions, with cars and fish heavily impacted.

Professor Grant told “Both sides will now enter into a period of intensive talks which will last some weeks.

“It should be possible to address some outstanding issues such as the need for pet passports and state aid.

“The UK will wait for the end of the talks to decide whether it should trigger Article 16.

“If it does so, then the EU will introduce trade sanctions against British exports such as cars and fish.

“Both sides would suffer from failure, not least in terms of maintaining peace and stability in Ireland which is a shared goal.”

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