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Michel Barnier warns Boris Johnson of ‘serious’ risks if EU Brexit deal put into question
July 4, 2021
Brexit: Barnier warns UK against questioning deal stance
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Michel Barnier issues his warning at a time of brittle relations between the UK and the European Union over the constitutional implications of the Northern Ireland protocol included in the Brexit deal. The former EU chief negotiator warned the British Government will have to tread carefully not to undermine “trust “between the UK and the bloc. Speaking to Euronews, Mr Barnier said: “I am confident that this great country will respect their signature, even if there are intentions that I struggle to understand.
“Because if you look at things in perspective, the most important thing for the British is to maintain a market of 450 million consumers with a big neighbor.
“If they question their signature, it would be serious for the trust we need.”
Brussels earlier last week agreed to a three-month extension to the grace period limiting the number of checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain.
Northern Ireland effectively remained in the customs union and the single market despite Brexit in a bid to limit the risks of renewing the conflict on the isle of Ireland.
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And during her last visit to the UK as Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel said she was “optimistic” a solution could be found to avoid further trade disruption between the UK nation and mainland UK.
Mrs Merkel said: “It is good news that it is extended for three months and in that time it should be possible to solve this pragmatically.
“I am optimistic that it will be possible.”
“I personally believe that within the framework of this Northern Ireland protocol… we can find pragmatic solutions.”
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Despite the apparent easing of relations, new DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned the Brexit protocol damaged Northern Ireland’s relationship with both Great Britain and the Republic.
Sir Jeffrey urged Boris Johnson to recognise the threat the protocol posed to the unity of the UK.
Speaking to Sky, the DUP leader said: “At the heart of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement are our three sets of relationships, and there’s a very delicate balance within that agreement as to how those relationships are managed.
“One of the key relationships is that between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
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“The agreement is very clear. The principle of consent protects the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to determine their constitutional status.
“When you harm one of those relationships, you harm all of them by extension.
“That’s exactly what we’ve seen happening because our relationship with Great Britain has been harmed by this protocol.
“So too our relationship with the Republic of Ireland has been harmed, and indeed it has undermined and destabilised relationships within Northern Ireland itself.
“We’ve seen that even on our streets. So it is imperative for all of us that we resolve these issues.”