G7: Raab tells EU to stop being 'bloody-minded' over Brexit deal

President Emmanuel Macron talks to Boris Johnson ahead of a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Cornwall.
President Emmanuel Macron talks to Boris Johnson ahead of a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Cornwall.

PM wants to find 'urgent solutions' to Northern Ireland protocol

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The European Union has been urged to back down in a dispute with the UK over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Restrictions on British-produced chilled meats entering Northern Ireland are due to come into force at the end of the month.

Delaying the checks without Brussels’ agreement risks triggering a “sausage war” trade dispute, with the EU threatening to respond to any breach of the deal signed by the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson was holding talks with the EU’s key players on Saturday as the dispute threatened to overshadow his hosting of the G7 summit.

The Prime Minister was meeting European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, European Council head Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the margins of the gathering in Cornwall.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen during the Leaders official welcome during the G7 Summit in Cornwall.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen during the Leaders official welcome during the G7 Summit in Cornwall.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged the EU to take a more “pragmatic” approach to the Northern Ireland issue.

Downing Street has indicated the UK would be prepared to unilaterally delay the full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent the ban on chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

Mr Johnson has suggested the EU is taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

<p>Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and President of France Emmanuel Macron at the G7.</p>

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and President of France Emmanuel Macron at the G7.

Mr Raab told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “They can be more pragmatic about the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that is win-win or they can be bloody-minded and purist about it, in which case I am afraid we will not allow the integrity of the UK to be threatened.”

During the meeting in Cornwall, Mr Macron reportedly told the Prime Minister the UK-France relationship could only be “reset” if Mr Johnson stood by the Brexit deal, according to French sources.

The protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market to avoid a hard border with Ireland, meaning a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters in Cornwall the immediate priority was to find “radical and urgent solutions within the protocol”.

But “we keep all options on the table”, he added, indicating the possibility of a unilateral extension of a grace period to allow sausages to continue to be shipped across the Irish Sea.

We will not allow the integrity of the UK to be threatened

Dominic Raab

Downing Street played down expectations of Mr Johnson finding a resolution to the impasse at the Carbis Bay summit.

The spokesman suggested the meeting was “not the forum in which he is necessarily seeking to come up with an immediate solution”.

At a press conference ahead of the G7 summit, Mrs von der Leyen insisted the protocol is the “only solution” to prevent a hard border with the Republic and must be implemented in full.

Mr Macron also warned the Brexit deal cannot be renegotiated.