Brexit deal 'was always a dreadful deal' says Farage
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Brexit frictions will erupt again later this month when the UK and European Union reopen talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol – a crunch issue both sides have failed to make progress on during the summer. As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed last year, the required customs checks were pushed back by three months at the end of June to allow Britain and the EU some time to find a solution to the ongoing problem. Earlier this year, the UK had threatened to take unilateral action against the EU to extend the agreed grace periods to ensure the frictionless passage of goods from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.
This infuriated the EU, who warned it would take retaliatory action if such measures were adopted.
A furious clash could again ensue when the two sides resolve talks over the Protocol, but one political expert has warned the UK Government any attempt to backtrack on commitments made in the mechanism could inflict severe long-lasting damage.
Alistair Jones, Associate Politics Professor at De Montfort University in Leicester, warned the current stalemate leaves the UK Government with “very little room for manoeuvre”.
He acknowledged while London could take the aggressive step and “renege” on the Protocol, it would result in a legal case they can’t win and would have a “horrendous impact on any future trade deals with other countries”.
Professor Jones told Express.co.uk: “The UK Government does not appear to be engaging with any of the issues.
“Trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is being hammered. Interestingly, Northern Ireland is increasing trade with the Republic of Ireland and the EU (because Northern Ireland remains in the Single Market).
“For British businesses, as agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement and the post-Brexit trade agreement, their relationship with Northern Ireland is now like that of the EU – in effect, there is a border in the Irish Sea, erected by Boris Johnson.”
He then warned: “There is very little that can be done.
“The EU is not going to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol, and definitely not the Withdrawal Agreement or the post-Brexit trade agreement.
“This leaves the Johnson Government with very little room for manoeuvre.
“They could simply renege on the Protocol, but this will be challenged in the courts (and I strongly suspect the UK will lose).
“Such a reneging will have a horrendous impact on any future trade deals with other countries.
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“The whole question of trust comes into play. The fact the UK Government does not like what it negotiated and agreed is immaterial.
“The only remaining alternative is to actually implement the Protocol properly – something which the UK Government has failed to do to date.”
Professor Jones added the UK taking a harder stance against the EU on the Protocol – especially when it wants to re-open the negotiations from scratch – will prove to be “futile”.
He warned if the UK does not step back from its stubborn stance and begin implementing the terms of the Protocol it signed up to, then the EU will be left with no option but to take legal action.
The political expert continued: “The most likely outcome, in the short-term, is the EU agreeing to extend deadlines.
“If the UK is not seen to be making moves to implement the Agreements, the EU will take up judicial processes.”
He continued: “The EU hold the trump cards, despite the UK Government saying otherwise.
“If the UK does not implement all aspects of the Agreements – both of which were approved by the UK Parliament – the EU will initiate proceedings in various courts.
“Johnson has repeatedly promised the EU that he will implement the Agreements – which were ‘oven-ready’ in his words – but has repeatedly told others that he will get them changed.
“This is now beginning to catch up on him. A change in PM will not change the situation with the EU: the UK is expected to implement all aspects of the Agreements.”
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