Brexit: Simon Coveney shut down by host on UK-US trade deal
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The Irish politician said “unilateral action, when it comes to sensitive issues in Northern Ireland never works”, as he urged Boris Johnson’s Government to refrain from extending the grace period for the Brexit protocol.
As reported in the Irish Times, Mr Coveney said it would be “really problematic” if the UK unilaterally decided to act on restrictions between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
He added that “it’s going to take this process backwards, not forwards”.
He continued: “I think that is going to be a very strong message coming from Dublin to London.
“The way in which we solve problems in Northern Ireland is always on the basis of Dublin, London working together.
“And in this case, it’s got to be on the basis of London and the EU, working together to try and find a pragmatic way forwards.”
This is not the first attack on the UK by the hands of Mr Coveney who last week disputed Lord Frost’s claim that EU “inflexibility” was to blame for the impassion over the Northern Ireland protocol.
The latest blow comes after the leaders of the G7 met in Cornwall over the weekend.
The Summit ended with a diplomatic row sparked by comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron.
During talks with the French leader, Boris Johnson queried how the French president would react if Toulouse sausages could not be sold in Paris markets, echoing London’s accusation that the EU is preventing sales of British chilled meats in Northern Ireland.
The President was reported to have suggested that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK in response.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused Mr Macron and other senior EU figures of talking about Northern Ireland “as if it was some kind of different country to the UK”.
He described such attitudes as “offensive” and called on the EU to show “respect” as such comments caused deep concern within Northern Ireland.
The continuing row over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the agreement – intended to protect the peace process by ensuring there is no return to a hard border with the Republic – overshadowed much of the summit.
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Mr Johnson repeated his warning that he could unilaterally delay the latest checks on chilled meats moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – due to come into force at the end of the month – unless there was a resolution to the dispute.
The EU has previous said that its patience is wearing “very, very thin” and had threatened to launch a trade war unless the UK abides by its treaty obligations.
On Monday, French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said that current tensions were “a test” for Europe.
He said: “Mr Johnson thinks that you can sign deals with the Europeans and not respect them and that Europe will not react.
“It is a test for Europe.
“I am telling the British people, (Brexit) commitments must be respected… If it is not the case, retaliatory measures could be taken.”
He continued: “In Northern Ireland there are sausage import problems…
“Why? Because when you leave the European Union, you have necessarily some (trade) barriers.
“I cannot tell the French or the Europeans that Britain can export via (EU member) Ireland some products such as meat without any control… That is what it is all about. Brexit has consequences.”
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