PMQs: Boris Johnson slams Keir Starmer over Brexit stance
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The EU was outraged earlier this year when Britain said it would not give full ambassadorial status to the bloc’s representative in London. The Government argued the status would not be appropriate as the European Union is not a sovereign state.
However, according to a report in The Times, the UK is understood to be
preparing to backtrack as the move meant Britain was frozen out of some discussions in Brussels.
Tom Harwood, political correspondent for GB News and former national chair of the pro-Brexit Students for Britain, urged the Prime Minister to stick to his guns.
He tweeted: “Weak move. The EU isn’t (yet) a country and we shouldn’t act like it is.
“Countries have ambassadors. Clubs do not.”
Speaking to The Times a Foreign Office insider said the refusal to grant ambassadorial status has had an “unhealthy chilling effect” on relations with the EU.
They argued this has undermined discussions over contentious issues like fishing and customs regimes.
The source claimed the Government has started discussions with Brussels which could see its UK representative recognised as an ambassador.
They said: “I think it will be resolved sooner rather than later.
“It is a silly dispute but has had a corrosive effect.”
João Vale de Almeida is currently the EU’s most senior representative in the UK.
The Portuguese diplomat formerly represented the bloc to the US and UN.
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Controversially on his official Twitter account, Mr Vale de Almeida claims to be “EU Ambassador to the United Kingdom” despite this status not being recognised by the Government.
During the Trump presidency, the US briefly removed ambassadorial status from the EU’s representative before backtracking.
When the Government’s decision was announced in January former Tory cabinet minister David Lidington commented: “Non-recognition could set a bad precedent for regimes that hate EU Ambassadors speaking up for human rights defenders.”
Labour peer Lord Adonis added: “Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have decided not just to leave the EU but to insult it – denying full diplomatic status to the EU ambassador being the latest insult. Very unwise.”
Defending the decision the Foreign Office commented: “The EU, its Delegation and staff will receive the privileges and immunities necessary to enable them to carry out their work in the UK effectively.”
Britain formally left the EU in January 2020 but remained in a Brexit transition period until December.
During this time the UK retained single market membership and continued implementing many laws made in Brussels.
At the end of December, this was replaced by Mr Johnson’s new trade deal restoring Britain as a fully independent trading nation.
Earlier this year the UK unilaterally postponed new customs checks on certain goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.
The move had infuriated Northern Irish unionists and contributed to several days of loyalist rioting.
The European Commission has launched legal action against the UK over the issue.
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