BORIS JOHNSON is threatening to rip up the current Brexit withdrawal agreement as he tells European negotiations the current deal is unacceptable. But do you think the Prime Minister is bluffing with his latest threat? VOTE HERE
Boris Johnson has branded the Brexit divorce deal “contradictory” and says the document must be urgently re-written. The Prime Minister will highlight his concerns to EU leaders today, and urge them to make several key amendments to safeguard Britain’s union with Northern Ireland.
The Government has already set down its plans to alter the terms of the withdrawal agreement (WA), through legislation tabled for later this week.
Key sections of the Internal Market Bill, which will formalise trading rules within the British isles from next year, override several elements of the treaty agreed with Brussels.
The Bill, which is due to be published on Wednesday, is expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement”, in areas such as state aid and Northern Ireland customs.
Talk of the plans has already infuriated Brussels, as such a move would undermine the agreement on Northern Ireland that Mr Johnson signed last October, which seeks to avoid a hard border in the region.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, warned that “a precise implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement” was essential to the success of trade talks between the two sides.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also weighed in on the matter, and said the issue revolved around “trust”.
She has threatened to not do business with Britain if the country renegades on the WA, which Brussels insists is legally binding.
Mrs von der Leyen wrote on Twitter: “I trust the British Government to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, an obligation under international law and prerequisite for any future partnership.
“Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is essential to protect peace and stability on the island and the integrity of the Single Market.”
Downing Street has said it merely wanted to “clarify” parts of the WA to protect the interests of Northern Ireland and the ongoing peace process as a “safety net” in case no trade deal is agreed in the coming weeks.
A Government spokesperson said: “As a responsible Government, we are considering fallback options in the event this is not achieved to ensure the communities of Northern Ireland are protected.”
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin has warned the Brexit talks would be rendered “null and void” if the WA is not implemented in full.
He told the Irish Examiner: “The withdrawal agreement is an international treaty and we expect the UK government to implement and to adhere to what was agreed.
“We trust them to do so or they would render the talks process null and void.”
The eighth round of trade talks between the UK and Brussels will begin today, after Mr Johnson declared a deal must be reached by October 15.
The negotiations will take place in London this morning, as David Frost, the UK’s lead negotiator, is set to tell the EU it must comes to terms with the reality Britain is a sovereign state.
Speaking on the eve of talks, Mr Frost said: “Today, I will sit down with Michel Barnier and drive home our clear message that we must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time.
“We have now been talking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground.
“We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.”