Enough! Sefcovic ignores Biden Brexit warning with ‘disruptive’ demands – MP hits out

Brexit: Lord Trimble on his fears over hard Irish border

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David Jones MP, deputy chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) was speaking after European Commissioner Mr Sefcovic, the bloc’s point man when it comes to the Northern Ireland Protocol, claimed any attempt to renegotiate the post-Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK Government would cause “instability, uncertainty and unpredictability”. The Protocol is a mechanism agreed between the two parties which the intention of preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.

However, critics claim it has instead resulted in a border down the Irish Sea.

Unionists have repeatedly called for it to be scrapped, fearing it undermines their position in the UK.

The UK Government last week unilaterally and indefinitely extended the grace period after which more stringent checks on goods entering the province from Great Britain will be imposed, much to the anger of Brussels.

Mr Sefcovic takes no account of the concerns that Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble set out in his recent letter to US President Joe Biden

David Jones MP

However, Mr Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, suggested the Slovakian diplomat was missing the point.

He told Express.co.uk: “Mr Sefcovic takes no account of the concerns that Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble set out in his recent letter to US President Joe Biden.

“Lord Trimble, who was one of the authors of the Belfast – Good Friday Agreement, pointed out that the Protocol is positively undermining the Agreement by changing the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without the consent of its people and by disrupting its trade with the rest of the United Kingdom. This must not continue.”

Mr Jones added: “With great respect to Commissioner Sefcovic, he should not be slow to dismiss the assessment of such an internationally renowned figure as Lord Trimble.

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“The plain fact is that the Protocol is not working, and cannot be made to work.”

Referring to the think tank chaired by his fellow Tory MP Owen Paterson, Mr Jones added: “The recently published paper by the Centre for Brexit Policy points the way out of this impasse.

“It is by replacing the Protocol with a system of mutual enforcement, which would obviate the need for disruptive checks and still protect the integrity of both the UK and the EU single markets.

“The EU would do well to give it serious consideration.”

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Mr Sefcovic delivered his speech at Queen’s University in Belfast amid growing political tension over the protocol, after DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned that his party may quit Stormont if its demands are not met.

Mr Sefcovic said: “The EU and the UK must continue these discussions in order to reach an understanding.

“I believe that our focus should be on those issues that matter the most to the people of Northern Ireland, and not on requests, such as removing the role of the European Court of Justice.

“Doing this would effectively mean cutting Northern Ireland off the EU’s single market and related opportunities.

“Instead, let’s see what can be done to further ease the supply of goods.”

He added: “And let’s see how to involve the people of Northern Ireland in our discussions on the implementation of the protocol.

“A renegotiation of the protocol – as the UK Government is suggesting – would mean instability, uncertainty and unpredictability in Northern Ireland.”

“Bear in mind it has already taken us five years to get to this point.”

Mr Sefcovic pledged to do “whatever it takes” to ensure that the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland is not disrupted because of the protocol.

However he warned: “I also need to be honest: while we will continue looking for solutions to minimise the effects of Brexit on your everyday lives, we will never be able to remove them entirely – such are the consequences of Brexit and of the choices of the UK Government.

“The protocol is not the problem. On the contrary, it is the only solution we have.

“Failing to apply it will not make problems disappear, but simply take away the tools to solve them.”

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